To date over 700 students have participated in our school programs and half of those students have completed a full year with a minimum of absences. Our program is unique in that it is framed by behavioral economics’ behavior change theory. This calls for incentivizing full participation to attain maximum benefits. Incentivizing behavior change is an effective means for achieving expected changes when individuals are less likely to be intrinsically motivated. Additionally, it is important to have role models for what that behavior change represents. Rewards include field trips, guest speakers and prizes.
We have built momentum through our after-school program by providing participating children and their families with productive and constructive activities, guidance and supervision. Services that they would not otherwise be able to access during the summer months.
Our program enhances the lives of participating children in important ways. The experiences of participating in field trips and the relationships they develop through mentoring serve to expand their perceptions about what is possible for themselves and their peers beyond their neighborhoods. Through these sources of inspiration and motivation their levels of self-confidence are increased.
A second strength of this program is the ways in which it contributes to the quality of life in Coconut Grove, South Miami and Coral Gables communities we serve. The children who participate will have an easier transition into middle school and high school. This is an especially challenging process for children without mentors and with limited self-confidence. We believe that a smoother transition will produce happier children who are more likely to model positive behaviors for their peers, contributing to safer schools and neighborhoods.
Program effectiveness is measured using a combination of process and outcome measures as illustrated in the following table. We engage a small group of graduate students from the University of Miami School of Education to provide guidance and support to measure outcomes. Graduate students are required to complete projects. We capitalize on that requirement through our University contacts. Measures will be identified that will support evaluating the extent to which participating children are engaged in the program through direct observation and parental satisfaction using surveys.