By: Heather Intres, Chief Impact Officer
For the past 61 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver has been inviting feedback from our families. This year and into the future, we’re formalizing the way we seek and study feedback in order to ensure that we’re providing the best possible programs, services, and Club experience to our kids and families. That’s one of the many reasons Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver established an Impact Department in 2021.
The authors of our impact story are our kids and families.
As Denver continues to recover from the pandemic, we are thrilled to be able to safely welcome families back into our Clubs this summer.
In February, our Impact Department took the first step in a year-long strategy to engage families by piloting an innovative, summer Family Needs Survey across our 21 Clubs. In order to gather strong data about their needs and priorities and establish a clean data analysis framework, we partnered with Quantitative Research Evaluation & Measurement (QREM), a respected third-party evaluation partner to help us facilitate our surveys and understand their results.
Almost 800 parents and family members responded to the Family Needs Survey. Their voices will help shape our priorities, strategies, and planning for summer and the 2022-23 school year.
Our goals for this initial family survey were to:
- Learn what families want
- Engage families
Our results confirmed what we already thought we knew: Kids and families look to the Clubs for consistent, enriching summer programs. This knowledge was just the start of our Family Survey story.
We know needs have changed dramatically as we recover from the pandemic, so we were first interested in learning what families need most from a summer program. Their responses inform our plans for summer across 18 Clubs in Metro Denver. Some of the questions we asked:
- What’s important to you and your child(ren) right now?
- What is top of mind for you?
- What are you concerned about?
- What can we do to support your child this summer?
We also wanted to use this survey as a reintroduction to the families in our neighborhoods. Our families are incredibly busy, so we kept our surveys short (just over three minutes). Surveys were available in English and Spanish and we asked questions whose responses we know we can act upon. We will utilize these initial survey responses to engage families more deeply in town-hall conversations and listening tours.
As families return to the Club, this was the perfect time to build on new, in-person connections, reintroducing ourselves in a way that felt welcoming and reasonable. This survey laid the groundwork for a year-long, targeted family engagement strategy.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver is committed to ensuring families feel like they are a part of our Clubs, that they are welcome to participate and engage, and that we are there when they need us.
The consistent engagement strategy will create an expectation that families will regularly be asked to share their voices, their celebrations, and their concerns. Our actions, based on these results, will demonstrate that we aren’t only asking for their voice, but also communicate that what they care about, share, and prioritize impacts what goes on each day in our Clubs.
This strategy gives family voices visibility and makes our actions transparent.
The summer Family Need Survey was available between February and March of 2022 and asked families what they expected from our programs, their overall expectations of summer programs, their priorities to improve their child’s current circumstances, and which aspects of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver programming their child frequently mentioned.
Survey data was organized into seven thematic areas:
- Parent priorities
- Summer desires
- Summer requirements
- Social-emotional learning
- Field trips
- Interest in future programs
The family survey established that there is a real need for consistent, enriching summer programs from Clubs – 90% of families said they plan to enroll their child in a summer program. Chief among their priorities are academics; 74% of families are looking for a program that will help their child succeed in school. Academic support, like the kind found in Clubs, will help kids academically when it’s time to return to the classroom in the fall.
Other highlights of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver programs are staff and sports. Clubs will continue to be a place where kids build relationships with trusted adults. Overall, 93% of parents’ comments established that their children view Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver in a positive manner.
The survey also indicated a need for social-emotional learning (SEL) support. Parents see the Club as a place where kids learn to manage their big emotions.
As an organization, we learned that our programs for middle schoolers and teens need to be more visible to parents.
In addition to informing us about what families want, need, and prioritize, this data will help inform our program partner strategy. Because families place high importance on academic progress, for example, we will explore partnerships with tutoring and academic programs to enhance our core work. We also know that we have to stay true to who we are, and will continue to prioritize fun and engaging learning programs with proven outcomes.
Additionally, based upon what we learned about Academic Success being a priority for families, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver will pilot an AI reading program in partnership with Gary Community Ventures at three Clubs this summer with the hope of mitigating summer slide.
Our next survey of families will be a school year program satisfaction survey. This will be our most important data collected this year because we will hear directly from families how we’re doing as an organization and where we can improve. This feedback will help us set the course for our Clubs today, next year, and beyond. It is also critical that we hear from our kids in more meaningful and frequent ways, so we’ve launched a kid perception data pilot at six of our Clubs. Using age-appropriate questions, we will ask kids of all ages how they feel in our Clubs, what they like to do, and where they need support. This pilot is part of our overall strategy to ground all programs in social-emotional learning.
Family voice, partnership, and engagement are key components that inform how we carry out our mission of providing Club members with a safe, supportive, fun, and enriching environment that inspires and empowers them to achieve their greatest potential. These strategies will help us prioritize meaningful and necessary after school programs and summer activities in our Clubs located in neighborhoods across the city – giving every kid a chance to find their place at the Club.
*All data were gathered using the ethics and guidelines stipulated by the American Evaluation Association (AEA), with only aggregate data reported back to Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. Qualitative responses were coded and analyzed with quantitative responses and analyses focused on differences by school level. Bias checks revealed no demographic bias.