I work at a large urban youth center with about 50 distinct youth development programs all under one roof. It’s exciting to work at a multiservice agency where children, teens, and adults in the community can access so many services all in one building.
I love being an internal evaluator here because I get to learn about so many different topics. I evaluate programs about:
- HIV, STI, and pregnancy testing
- Prenatal education workshops for pregnant teens and their partners
- Afterschool tutoring
- College prep
- Summer camps
- Peacebuilding/gang prevention
- Foster care
- Street outreach for runaway and homeless youth
- Mental health counseling (individual, group, and with the teen’s parents)
- Substance abuse counseling
- Financial literacy
- Case management
- Arts and media
- Advocacy programs that teach youth and their parents leadership skills that enable and encourage them to get involved in community issues
- Tennis teams
- Physical education at elementary schools
- Peer health education
- Sexual education
- And, a positive youth development training curriculum for staff.
While I don’t need to be an expert on all these topics, I do need to understand the pros and cons of each programmatic approach (for example, why we’re running a peer health education program to address teen smoking rather than another approach). I also need to help the people running the programs articulate the short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals of what the program’s trying to accomplish. Finally, I need to understand the best way to evaluate each content area.
Mastering so many content areas is a life-long endeavor. I’ve learned so much in the past few years and look forward to the day when I can say I’m truly an expert on evaluating all these areas.