evaluation

Community Organizing and Disability Awareness

VISTA Name: 
Rayna Ramirez
Program Start: 
6/2007
Program End: 
1/2008
Project Description: 

The focus of Rayna’s work was to help organize a committee of people with disabilities, staff from public and non-profit agencies that serve them, and community volunteers to carry out the North Quabbin TechACCESS project (funded via CTCNet’s C4All program). Her goal was to build the capacity of the committee to make YES’ facilities, materials, programs and services more accessible and, next, to assist other community organizations and institutions to do the same. Specifically, her job was to:

1) assist with committee recruitment and operations;
2) conduct a community accessibility needs assessment;
3) organize committee training sessions and skill-development activities;
4) assist with research, purchase and installation of equipment, fixtures and technologies;
5) assist with research, preparation and production of accessible program materials;
6) promote the use of the newly-accessible facility, services and programs; and
7) document these activities and evaluate their outcomes.

Project Outcome: 

Rayna assembled a volunteer committee of 12 residents, caregivers and professionals following two information sessions. With the the TechACCESS committee, Rayna conducted a needs assessment, entitled ‘Disability and Opportunity in the North Quabbin’, to identify the demographics of the disabled in our community and their needs. She organized two full days of accessibility trainings with Russ Holland of ATA for committee members and the public (‘Accessible Materials, Websites, Communication’; ‘Reaching Out & Including People with Disabilities’; ‘Accessible Facilities & Programs’; and ‘Accessible Computer Hardware & Software’). With knowledge gained from the workshops, the committee and staff worked with contractors and volunteers to remove physical barriers to YES facilities (bathroom grab bars, motion-activated light switches, lowered soap and towel dispensers, accessible sink faucets and doors handles); entryways (automatic door opener and entryway at sidewalk level); signage (neon signs, lit exit signs); classroom and cyber cafe (foldable, moveable tables and chairs); and computers (assistive hardware and software). Rayna worked with a disabled YES member to create an on-line resource directory for people with disabilities living and working in our region (including a list of businesses indicating which ones are wheelchair accessible, compiled after a telephone poll). Prior to Rayna’s early exit in January due to a medical condition, she attended an information session on the Town of Orange’s annual Community Development Block Grant program. She crafted a concept paper for the next phase of TechACCESS, which is to provide direct services beginning in mid-2008, building on the organizational capacity developed in 2007. Services include providing individualized career, educational and technological assessment, training, and support combined with and group classes to prepare up to 50 teens and young adults for economic self-sufficiency, with assistive technology playing a central role. On the strength of the concept paper, YES was invited to submit a proposal due in October and a full proposal due in November. TechACCESS-Orange was selected by the Town as its only social service project included in a $1M grant application to the MA Department of Housing and Community Development. If successful, the project will receive a $30,000 grant in early fall to support the program through December 2009. The TechACCESS committee members all wrote letters of support specifying the value of and need for the program, and continue to meet monthly.

Research and Writing

VISTA Name: 
Howard Fisher
Program Start: 
9/2010
Program End: 
7/2011
Project Description: 

Howie’s role is to evaluate the collaborative relationships between the Transmission Project, its Service Corps members, and its partner organizations. To this end, he delves into the Transmission Project’s past in order to build on our 10 year history of collaborative capacity building. With an eye to the Project’s future, he also conducts research on trends in the public media field.

Project Outcome: 

Howard has been an amazing resource to the Transmission Project during his year of service. Howard has enabled the Transmission Project to make sense of its 10 years of history, including: putting all of our 400+ projects online in a searchable database; collecting stories and statistics about the impact of our projects; identifying and describing best (and worst) practices in public media and technology. In this latter role, Howard has published numerous articles and whitepapers on diverse topics: social media, donor databases, fundraising, project management, and national service. In these tasks, Howard is an active agent in reaching out to interview fellow VISTAs, organizational partners and other leaders in the field; he has strengthened the Transmission Project’s relationship to other nonprofit and public media organizations.

Program Outreach and Development

VISTA Name: 
Elizabeth Cavano
Program Start: 
10/2000
Program End: 
10/2001
Project Description: 

SCAT currently has two computer stations that will soon be linked to the Internet, and will be dedicated solely to community members, and we hope to have a high speed cable modem connection soon. The VISTA volunteer’s work would revolve around helping move SCAT into the “digital age” without leaving behind anyone in the Somerville communities SCAT has been serving for over 25 years: at risk youth, immigrant communities, low- and middle-income people, and organizations who feel ignored by the “mainstream” media, and seniors looking for a way to make their voices and concerns heard. The concrete activities would include but not be limited to the following:

Planning and policy work: Research how other public access stations have “crossed the digital divide” and implemented computer center programs, as well as programs related to the new digital video technologies. Make recommendations to SCAT staff and Board of Directors, and help implement the plan, which would include the purchase of some equipment.

Outreach: Collaboration on the development of messages and programming for the public access channel aimed at making people aware of the new resources and programs at SCAT; development of printed outreach material personal outreach work, such as visiting service agencies, youth groups, community associations, etc., with a translator where necessary.

Training programs: Design and implementation of a creative program of training on the computer stations, especially related to the internet and to the multimedia possibilities offered by the WWW; collaboration with SCAT staff who work with the non-linear editing system in the design and implementation of new multimedia training courses design and implementation of an advanced training program related to web site design, video streaming, etc.

Impact: It is hoped that this new facet of SCAT’s work will have many different impacts for low-income youth and adults, from both the English-speaking, and the non-English -speaking communities, including but not limited to: concrete, career-related training, increased accessing of the resources available through the internet; a dynamic new addition to SCAT television programming; the development of a dynamic multimedia program, where teh assets and opportunities of public access television and the internet are combined and made accessible to all.

Youth Program Development

VISTA Name: 
Katrina Kennett
Program Start: 
7/2008
Program End: 
8/2009
Project Description: 

The Coalition for Asian Pacific American Youth is a project of the Asian American Studies Program at University of Massachusetts Boston. It builds the leadership of Asian American high school students in the greater Boston area through the development and implementation of youth-led projects. We believe that youth united by a common cause can make a difference.

The following are the types of activities that the AmeriCorps VISTA member will accomplish:

1. Program and Curriculum Planning and Implementation– The No. One priority of the school in the coming year is to upgrade and update the school’s curriculum. Under the leadership and guidance of the Programs & Curriculum Committee (PCC) members, the VISTA volunteer will be an active participant in the planning process and will help implement recommendations made by the PCC through out the year.

2. Systematize School Operations and Procedures– A critical task is to create a reference source for the school’s operations and procedures. The VISTA volunteer will lead the development and production of a set of school handbooks. There will be a general school handbook, a handbook customized for the needs of the teachers and one customized for the students. The development and production of the bi-lingual English/Chinese handbooks will be a collaborative effort with the participation of the school Board and staff.

3. Create/Update Bi-lingual Schools Forms and Pamphlets– Working with the staff and the Programs & Curriculum Committee, the VISTA volunteer will be the project leader in updating or creating program description pamphlets; tuition and tuition assistance, and enrollment forms. The staff will assisted in getting all communications materials translated into Chinese. As part of the need to systematize the school operations, the VISTA volunteer will assist in the creation of a student database to capture student profile, track attendance, tuition payment history, et al.

4. Update and Upgrade the School’s Bilingual Website– In collaboration with the website volunteer and using information gathered under Items 2 and 3, the VISTA volunteer will lead in the upgrading, updating, and monitoring of the school website.

5. Create a Template to Start a Parent Teacher Association– In collaboration with the Board and staff and using standard PTA guidelines, the VISTA volunteer will develop the mission/vision and sustainable, start-up goals and programs for a PTA. Once the PTA handbook is approved by the Board, the VISTA volunteer will assist in the start-up phase of the PTA.

Project Outcome: 

n the beginning, Katrina centered on constructing infrastructure in KKCS’s practices and procedures. She has worked with the Head of School to develop institutional policies and procedures, and worked diligently to implement effective and efficient practices in the After School Program. Through recruiting and training volunteers, she has expanded the number of people working with students, thus lessening the student to teacher radio. She has worked to build an efficient Healthy Snack Program which provides the After School students with nutritious and balanced snacks every day. Katrina also has her sights set on the long term impacts that technology can make on KKCS and has been a part of the planning process for our student and school database. Through these and many more tasks, her comprehensive understanding of both the day to day operation as well as the long term goals have helped to bring KKCS to a higher level.

For the first time, Math/English is offered in the After-School program. Katrina designed the curriculum which follows the Boston Public School standards, recruited student teachers from colleges and Boston Latin School to teach these subjects two days a week for two hours each day. Katrina has also provided additional resources such as lesson planning templates, sample lesson plans and best practices. The Math/English program continues to be offered in the After-School program.

Though Katrina drafted several of the school handbooks, none were adopted. In an effort to gain input and feedback, it was hoped that separate constituient committees conisisting of teachers, parents and students would be formed. This was not done. Time and resources were the challenge. KKCS’s website updating was not addressed by the school administration. The Parent Teacher Association had several starts, but did not get organized. This is a brand new concept to KKCS; the appropriate leadership needs to be identified.

Impact Quote: 

Katrina won the hearts of the teaching assistants and students. When she finished her time here, she was feted by many segments of the population, as a group, as smaller groups and individuals. Some members of the community continue to have contact with her.”
- Helen Chin Schlichte, supervisor

Citizen Journalism Coordinator

VISTA Name: 
Julie Adler
Program Start: 
7/2007
Program End: 
6/2008
Project Description: 

As the way we communicate rapidly changes, Cambridge Community Television faces the future, and bringing access to emerging communication technologies to all of the people of our City becomes a priority.

Projects:

Neighbor 2 Neighbor
•work with CCTV staff to develop this new program to embed citizen journalists in each of the city’s neighborhoods
•develop a plan to recruit and train the journalists
•work with the journalists to transfer digital media/web skills to community activists
•expand utilization of CCTV’s web site to address community issues

Develop and Implement Newscasts Targeted to 6th grade students
• Use existing design to help schools acquire simple news studios
• Research existing models for school news programs
• Develop and implement curriculum and newscasts to be recorded and FTP to a website and for retransmission on the school educational access channels

Youth Media Network Development:
• Develop citywide network for students involved in media making
• Work with the Youth Video Exchange Network to help create pathways for youth produced media to be shared nationally.
• Act as liaison to the Boston based Regional Youth Media Arts Education Collaborative (RYMAEC) to help meet the goal for shared curriculum, best practices and youth produced media.

Project Outcome: 

Julie’s work was instrumental in meeting our program goals of elevating more local residents to present media on the issues that affect their communities. We have countless blog posts, videos, photos and other pieces of issue-oriented media published on our website, and they have been seen by thousands of visitors in the course of the year. Julie’s execution of the Neighbormedia program also greatly successful in bringing our communities closer to each other. We saw many scenarios in which one citizen journalist published material about a community issue which then led to a high level of readership, discussion and participation around that particular issue. Bringing local producers together with their local audience is a massive tool for building community.

Impact Quote: 

One of the participants in the program came from a traditional journalism background and had a fair amount of difficulty acknowledging the value of our model of citizen journalism. Over time, and with significant reinforcement from Julie, this participant eventually became one of the most loyal evangelists of our citizen journalism program.”
- Sean Effel, supervisor

Website Developer

Organization: 
KDHX Community Media
VISTA Name: 
Robyn Haas
Program Start: 
7/2009
Program End: 
7/2010
Project Description: 

Participating in the CTC Vista Project enables KDHX to begin its Interactive Web Media Project, which centers around re-building the foundation of KDHX.org. The project will create a new online platform that leverages Joomla and integrates Salesforce.com. The Interactive Web Media Project also allows us to re-design our website to enhance the user experience, not just for the sake of presenting information. We are able to use this opportunity to address other issues such as our visual layout, ways to better integrate social media, and to better incorporate video and audio clips throughout. This project needs a dedicated person to coordinate with all the different departments of KDHX so that we can build a structure to support a meaningful and useful online presence– one that is entertaining, user-friendly, and consistently maintains the integrity of KDHX Community Media while growing an audience.

Goal 1: Evaluate KDHX.org and analyze the content and user-interface from the point of view of all stakeholders.
Goal 2: With IT Director, make recommendations for an interactive web media plan based on research, analysis, and direct feedback.
Goal 3: Create and implement a plan for KDHX.org’s new interactive media website.
Goal 4: Evaluate and analyze results of Vista member contribution and project implementation.

Project Outcome: 

With the help of two staff members, two interns, and one volunteer Robyn was able to investigate needs, develop a structure, select software to satisfy needs, test, and receive approval to launch a new website for KDHX.org. Robyn’s work was completed methodically and with a great deal of care. The site is currently in a late beta testing stage, and is expected to replace KDHX.org within two months of the termination of Robyn’s service period.

The scope of our project was quite large and it was intended to allow for discovery at the beginning to determine what work would need to be completed. The discovery revealed a large amount of work to replace all of the existing website functionality with the new system. Robyn discovered an innovative way of using a software called JomSocial to build a social network within KDHX.org. This unique tool enables audience members to connect to and interact with radio and television show hosts in a way that was never before possible. Additionally, Robyn was able to investigate the use of a magazine management component for Joomla! called K2 that simplifies and expands upon our capabilities to present complex data and metadata. Her investigation and skillful testing of this component has completely changed our management of content and multimedia on KDHX.org

Outreach Coordinator

Organization: 
Media Literacy Project
VISTA Name: 
Candelario Vazquez
Program Start: 
9/2009
Program End: 
7/2011
Project Description: 

The VISTA member will assist in building NMMLP’s MAG-Net projects. MAG-Net is a project of the Center for Media Justice. NMMLP, along with other organizations nationwide, is a member of MAG-Net and is working on media justice projects in New Mexico. General support for MAG-Net will include outreach efforts – creating handouts and flyers, recruiting participants for Girl Tech Collective, documenting events and activities, and assisting with the New Mexico Media Assessment.

Goal 1: Support the MAG-Net Projects: Girl Tech Collective and New Mexico Media Assessment
Goal 2: Support the Media Monitoring Project

Project Outcome: 

The three main project goals for this position were to support the Girl Tech Collective program, support a media assessment of New Mexico, and support a project on media monitoring.

The Girl Tech Collective program began this past year, but was shifted to another staff person. Instead, Candelario supported another youth program in New Mexico called Digital Justice for Us! (DJ4U) program. This was a more strategic move because it connected to MLP’s work on broadband in New Mexico, a project that this VISTA member would already be working on. The Digital Justice for Us! program was successful and MLP learned a lot from this first year. Cande supported the youth involved in this program, assisted in organizing the event to showcase the young participant’s video work, lead an evaluation on the program, and documented the process. His work will make the DJ4U program stronger for the coming year. MLP’s Program Director helped support this program.

The second project goal was to support the New Mexico media assessment. This project took on the form of an assessment of broadband access in New Mexico. Cande helped to host researchers from the Social Science Research Council in our state as they conducted focus groups in the greater Albuquerque area. Cande also formalized new organizational partnerships around the broadband issue, helped to build MLP’s base, and participated in community conversations. The increase in supporters of MLP and the collection of stories and information on how broadband affects rural and low-income communities has greatly strengthened MLP’s programs and projects. All MLP staff, partner organizations, and community members helped support the goal for increased access to broadband in New Mexico.

The third project goal was to support the media monitoring project. Cande helped to support Siembra la palabra digna, MLP’s initiative to address responsible speech in our media. Cande assisted at outreach events, collected video stories from community members, and monitored media clips to examine how issues and communities are framed and reported on in various media. Support for this project has helped MLP develop better workshops and materials that connect responsible speech with access to media and storytelling. MLP’s Campaign Coordinator assisted the VISTA member in this initiative.

Website Design and Analysis

VISTA Name: 
Caitlin Flint
Program Start: 
9/2010
Program End: 
9/2011
Project Description: 

The Corps member would be working directly to collect data, conduct analysis, research innovations, and provide recommendations on how to enhance and improve HealthyCity.org. The corps member’s role would be to gather and analyze user feedback and comments, provide responses and information to user questions, collect and promote stores form communities on the ground, and brainstorm and think through ways to improve and enhance trainings and structure of HealthyCity.org to increase usability and accessibility.

Project Outcome: 

Caitlin worked on researching and understanding the needs of our core audience to design and develop updates to our HealthyCity.org platform as well as help in the planning and implementation of additional projects most notably ReDrawCA.org a mapping application to engage community in the Redistricting process in California.

Our process in developing technology initiatives has improved and has become more reflective and evaluative specifically around design and testing with the added capacity and skill set of our Corps member. We are finalizing documenting these processes in order to ensure sustainability, and will continue to incorporate this into our work moving forward.

We had hoped to develop a Design Library to catalog what particular technical design worked in what situation, and what did not as a reference for building further technical projects. Although some of this has begun, we needed more time allocated specifically for the creation of this library. In addition, our VISTA member showed interest in a particular technical design project and therefore we allocated her time to be allow her to participate and learn more.

Impact Quote: 

Thank you! Our experience with the Transmission Project has been extremely positive and valuable for our organization.”

- Lori Thompson, Supervisor

Neighborhood News Network Project Manager

Organization: 
Bay Area Video Coalition
VISTA Name: 
Anne Simmons
Program Start: 
9/2010
Program End: 
9/2011
Project Description: 

BAVC developed the Neighborhood News Network Project in order to take advantage of the high-speed fiber optic network that connects the local public acces, educational, and government channels to nearly fifteen community sites throughout San Francisco. It has the capacity to support live video streaming and high resolution file transfer from any connected site. In the initial n3 pilot, BAVC will focus on three unique organizations and the constituencies they serve.

The Digital Arts Service Corps member would serve a central and defining role as Project Manager in building and launching the neighborhood news network project, with complete focus for one year on building, implementing, documenting, and evaluating the project, in a way that no current staff member could do without letting their essential duties drop. The Corps member wold be responsible for identifying San Francisco neighborhoods, organizations, and programs that could most benefit from the added capacity of tools and skills required to share relevant, timely, and hyper-local news and information with each other, to conduct research, outreach, documentation, and evaluation tasks, and subsequently to implement a pilot program in a successful, sustainable, and replicable way with guidance, input and participation from BAVC staff and our community partners.

Project Outcome: 

Because of the Corps member’s activities at our organization, we have developed relationships with three local community-based organizations, installed studio equipment at their sites, conducted training with staff and community members, and produced work that will continue to be distributed online and on our channels. Another major outcome of the Corps member’s work was further development of the “neighborhood news network” program model, and curriculum for the program that we can continue to use and adapt for other audiences.

Our service corps member accomplished everything we set out to do during the year. One of the main challenges that limited the scope of what she was able to accomplish was in outreach – namely, recruiting and sustaining the engagement of community producers in each of the workshops. With busy and differing schedules, and possibly because no fee was charged for participation in the workshops, some participants dropped out of the program or showed up inconsistently. This made teamwork and ongoing collaboration among the participants, and the pieces they were trying to produce, a constant challenge, particularly at one of the three sites. This resulted in fewer total participants trained, and fewer quality pieces completed without assistance, but it is also part of the reality of working with these populations. So the fact that we learned from this process still built capacity and understanding within our own organization and will impact our future partnership choices and program design.

Program Documentation and Evaluation

Organization: 
Organizers' Collaborative
VISTA Name: 
Catherine Hersh
Program Start: 
9/2005
Program End: 
3/2006
Project Description: 

OC is looking for assistance from Americorps Vista members to document our novel technical assistance model, to help evaluate and document low cost software solutions and training methods that we are using in our technology assistance work, and to bring this assistance model to one low-income neighborhood of Boston. We are also planning to produce, with Vista volunteer help, a concise publication for small organizations that helps them understand how to improve their technology setup. The publication will address critical needs of nonprofits, including acquisition of basic infrastructure, backups and virus protection, database management, setting up membership and donation systems, volunteer tracking, outreach, online fundraising, and gathering data on constituents.

Transmission Project