At Taylor Newberry Consulting (TNC), it is important to us that our research gets used. The story of our work with the people who run Bridge to Success illustrates our approach to utilization really well. Bridge to Success is a program designed to assist youth who are deemed at-risk, academically and socially. It is run by Community MicroSkills Development Centre and based in North Albion Collegiate Institute (NACI). NACI is located in the Jamestown-Mount Olive neighbourhood of Toronto. The program is funded by United Way Toronto.
United Way Toronto contracted TNC to lead the evaluation of Bridge to Success (B2S), but the evaluation (like the program itself) was very much a collaborative effort. Students and former students were consulted at several key points during the project. School staff, researchers from the school board, and program staff from MicroSkills were actively involved in data collection and analysis. The evaluation showed that B2S students graduated at a rate similar to the TDSB average and had post-secondary enrolment rates equal to the TDSB average, despite the fact that many of them entered high school in “high risk” circumstances.
These findings have been presented to several different audiences, and they have been used in a variety of ways. MicroSkills staff have revised and improved the program model, and used evaluation findings to secure support from additional partners. The evaluation findings enabled United Way Toronto to further develop their partnership with the donor that helped to create the project, and to secure additional funding to keep the program going.
B2S is now serving a second wave of NACI students. Microskills has maintained contact with many of the first generation graduates, and last year gave awards to two B2S students who had done exceptionally well in post-secondary education.