KEARNS, UTAH – October 6, 2015 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake County is the second site in the country to go forward with a community-based initiative from a national foundation that aims to develop a brighter future for children.
The collaboration will include help with funding, coaching and tools from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. It will help provide programs to improve child well-being throughout the Kearns community. The Foundation will provide a $150,000 grant as a one-to-one match for Salt Lake County’s funding.
The initiative was announced Tuesday by Mayor Ben McAdams, Granite School District Superintendent Martin Bates, Utah legislative leaders and members of the Kearns community.
McAdams said the framework—Evidence2Success—was developed by the Casey Foundation to help community residents, schools and local governments work together to gather data on the needs and strengths of local youth. McAdams said the data will then be used to determine where time, money and effort is needed. Partners agree to direct public funding towards programs that research shows are effective.
“We’re excited to receive this support from the Casey Foundation. With this funding, we will be able to determine how children in Kearns are doing today, choose programs that are proven to work in areas where kids aren’t thriving and develop financing and action plans to ensure the effort continues and succeeds,” said McAdams.
McAdams said the effort will focus on Kearns Township and some adjacent neighborhoods that participate in its public school systems. Kearns is the most diverse township in the county, with a third of its residents under age 18. That makes it uniquely positioned to take advantage of the Evidence2Success framework. Beyond funding, the Foundation also provides tools and technical assistance, including hands-on coaching, public financing strategies and access to examples of proven evidence-based programs.
Granite School District Superintendent Dr. Martin Bates and the schools in Kearns are central to the effort. “We are excited about this opportunity in working with the Casey Foundation and the County in bringing all of our resources to bear, to improve our student’s educational outcomes,” said Dr. Bates.
The county has assembled a steering committee of nearly two dozen members to oversee the effort, which will start with the state’s Utah Student Health and Risk Prevention (SHARP) surveys of children in the 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grades to collect data. Based on the survey results, programs will be selected by the community in partnership with the school district. McAdams said Kearns parents and community leaders will be in the driver’s seat.
“Kearns kids are accepting, loving and are really good kids. They don’t always have the opportunities that other kids around the valley have. This grant is one major stepping stone in the right direction. It will allow kids to better themselves, understand success, and for us to provide programs that will help kids find success,” said Kearns Steering Committee member Bryce Seipert.
McAdams said Salt Lake County and Granite School District have been leaders in using innovative financing methods to invest in children. Granite’s high-quality preschool program was the model when the county launched the nation’s first effort to finance volunteer public preschool education using a “Pay for Success” approach in 2013.
“Salt Lake County impressed us with a strong coalition that includes leaders from the major systems that serve children along with residents and young people who are ready to roll up their sleeves to invest in kids in a different way,” said Suzanne Barnard, director of the Foundation’s Evidence-Based Practice Group.
The Foundation introduced the Evidence2Success framework in two neighborhoods in Providence, Rhode Island, starting in 2012. The group has chosen six evidence-based programs—three of which are underway and serving more than 2,000 young people.
McAdams said with the grant funding secured, the effort to review Kearns school information and begin selecting programs will start immediately, under the leadership of the community steering committee.
Learn more about Evidence2Success at www.aecf.org/work/evidence-based-practice/evidence2success/. More information about Salt Lake County’s “Pay for Success” efforts is available at www.slco.org/mayor/issues/Pay-for-Success/