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    How Do You Master So Many Content Areas?

    Mar 26th, 2012 / Data Visualization /

    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
    • Nutrition
    • 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.

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