Since its inception in 2012, BLOCS has existed for one purpose – to build a better life for the youth in our community. And while much of that time was spent putting infrastructure in place and building a solid foundation, BLOCS has also enjoyed a number of important accomplishments:
• Quality out-of-school time (OST) is central to youth success today, and BLOCS has expanded from 38 to 77 sites serving 2,400 youth across the community. Further, it has improved program quality across the BLOCS OST network by 13% in three years.
• Introduced Louisville’s first-ever professional Youth Development Certification. Developed in partnership with Jefferson Community Technical College, it has enrolled 140 youth workers since its start in 2016.
• Partnered with JCPS on expanding the district’s CASCADE data system to enable OST programs to track OST attendance. This data tracking system is now used by 100 OST providers.
These are just a few of the numerous accomplishments BLOCS has spearheaded to help improve outcomes for young people. And we’re just getting started!
2017 Data Report Summary
This report outlines quality improvement data and youth outcomes data from 2014-2017 for all program sites in the BLOCS network. Information includes OST participation levels in Louisville’s Zones of Hope, program quality assessment data, social-emotional learning (SEL) results, and recommendations.
OST is a Violence Prevention Strategy!
OST can have a strong, positive impact on violence prevention. Adolescent mental and emotional well-being is associated with teens’ environments. Links have been found consistently between teens’ well-being and environments that are emotionally positive and warm and that provide support for developing adolescent autonomy. When youth don’t feel emotionally safe and supported, it can lead to risky behaviors.
OST is a Workforce Development Strategy!
Workforce development is another critical area in the community where OST can have a strong, positive impact. In addition to improving basic reading, writing, and math skills, workers also need to develop skills in communication, resource allocation, decision making, problem-solving, and using data. OST provides youth with opportunities to develop these kinds of abilities and skills that the GED doesn’t test for and that academic classes don’t fully prepare them for—things like higher-ordered thinking, organization and communication skills. Youth need these life capacities as adults, in order to meet demands, confront challenges and lean into opportunities.
OST provides supervised, safe, and engaging environments (environments that are emotionally positive and warm and that provide support) where they can practice, develop and master these skills over time. These positive environments look like: personal attention from adults, a positive peer group, and activities that hold their interest and build their self-esteem. Within this context, quality OST programs provide leadership opportunities such as community service, youth councils, opportunities to design or lead activities, and paid youth staff positions.
These are the kinds of real world examples, applications and experiences that build transferrable skills like communication, problem solving, and teamwork.