Joining Forces: Using Data for Continuous Improvement in Afterschool

Youth Sector Insights, Episode 2

In this second episode of Youth Sector Insights, we hear from researchers Amy Gerstein and Laurel Sipes of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and their Communities at Stanford. Both Gerstein and Sipes help collaboratives to develop the skills of inquiry and data use to make collective, evidence-based decisions. The pair reflect on their experiences working to build citywide out-of-school-time systems for the Wallace Foundation’s Next Generation After School System Building Initiative.

How do you get a diverse group to join forces around using data to better coordinate and deliver their services to youth? How do you help them to do so with rigor so that their efforts yield the greatest outcomes for the youth they collectively serve?

Our Guests

Amy Gerstein joined the Graduate School of Education as Executive Director of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities in 2009. In this capacity, she provides leadership and strategic direction for the Center’s community-based research and policy work. Amy brings the rich experience of a career in educational policy and research, curriculum and instruction, district reform, professional development, and project management to her leadership role at the Gardner Center. With extensive ties to Stanford’s near-neighbor community as well as a national profile in the fields of education and youth development, Amy is actively involved in fostering relationships between the university and youth-serving organizations to catalyze community change — close to home and in cities across the country.

A quote from the episode:

It takes time to build the skills and habits of inquiry — to build a culture around inquiry — in order to create more equitable outcomes for youth, and it takes concrete strategies and tools to help you get there.

Laurel Sipes joined the Gardner Center staff in 2013 with a background in education policy and mixed-methods research. Her work is driven by questions about equitable access to quality educational and out-of-school time experiences, achievement and opportunity gaps, and the broader context in which young people and their families live. She also works to build the capacity of communities to plan strategically and use data. Laurel holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley and a Bachelor’s Degree in History with a minor in Public Policy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

A quote from the episode:

What do you want to use the data for? What do you want to learn? What do you want to improve? I think this is always our approach to data use and it’s a really useful place to start a conversation in any group in any community.

About Youth Sector Insights

Multiple groups, organizations, and institutions make up the contexts through which young people move from infancy to adulthood. These include community-based organizations, health and human service agencies, parks and recreation, law enforcement, faith-based institutions, and schools. Together, such groups form what we at the Gardner Center call the youth sector. Through this podcast, we seek to explore the power of partners collaborating across institutional boundaries. Listen along as our guests offer takeaways and an inside look at their partnerships.

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