GiveBIG, the Seattle Foundation’s annual online celebration of nonprofits and philanthropy is back! This year, GiveBIG is celebrating the people behind the nonprofits that are creating positive change in Seattle. These people are champions, and deserve to be recognized!
Who are School’s Out’s Champions? They’re the coaches and trainers who assess programs, provide training, and guide afterschool program staff towards improving how they work with children and youth.
School’s Out works with more than twenty different trainers and coaches across Washington state.
How to honor and celebrate your coach or trainer
There are two ways to honor your coach–your champion!–for this GiveBIG. First is to make a donation to School’s Out Washington on our Seattle Foundation profile on May 5th. Each donation we receive will support the work SOWA and our coaches and trainers do, strengthening afterschool programs and empowering the youth they serve. All donations to SOWA also qualify us to get a slice of the GiveBIG stretch pool, magnifying your support.
You can also leave a comment below telling us about your coach or trainer. How did they affect your program or career? They deserve recognition, and there’s no one better to give it than the afterschool and youth development professionals who have benefited from their wisdom and experience.
How Our Coaches See Their Impact
We sat down with three of our coaches and trainers and asked them: What’s important to them about your work? What do you see as your impact?
Glen has worked for SOWA since 1989. He sees his role as supporting individual professionals understand what it is they want out of their work.
He remembers a student he taught eight years ago. She was brand new to the afterschool field, fresh out of college, and unsure if this was what she wanted to do with her life. But one module in the course was on professionalism. Glen told his students that training can prepare them for a wide variety of different positions and roles, and encouraged them about their own professional path. That student came to speak to Glen when the class was over to thank him and tell him how that module reframed the way she thought about her work. She realized she had a profession, not just a job. Today, that student is a program director.
As both one of SOWA’s coaches and a staff member responsible for analyzing program assessment data that we collect, Sheely Mauck sees clearly how the presence of trainers and coaches can strengthen programs. She knows that getting hands-on with a program allows coaches to see opportunities for change, insights that impact how children and youth experience a program. The data shows that even though a program’s quality can fluctuate, a program undergoing coaching always finds themselves improving in some way.
Sheely recently started working with an afterschool program in rural Washington. They’re experiencing similar results as many programs when they first start working with SOWA. They’re scoring well in many of the basic measures of program quality, such as good relationships between youth with staff and physical safety, but not so well on the high-level metrics that research shows truly matter, such as having structured and engaging content guided by youth input.
With input from Sheely, the program staff got their students together to brainstorm. What did they actually want to do with their out-of-school time? They found that their students really loved Team Scrabble, a game where each person on a team is assigned a letter and teams have to form words. So they changed their focus to spend more time on that game and literacy. Having only just started working with a coach, they’d already found a way to engage their youth in guiding their program.
Ask Karen how her work as a coach impacts children and youth, she’ll tell you it’s not her work, but the work of the afterschool program staff—who are often working against the odds with limited resources and support—that has an impact. She sees coaches like her as observers, someone who provides guidance and tools, and asks the challenging questions programs can’t ask themselves, but the hard work of actually strengthening programs belongs to program staff themselves.
“Change is not easy,” Karen says. “It takes effort to change behavior, but having support, guidance, and a cheerleader really helps people move through.”
Karen believes programs have to own the changes they undergo, rather than have those changes handed to them. Many years ago, she was coaching a program when her assessments revealed that they had a problem: they needed a better way to resolve conflicts between children. With Karen’s guidance, that program spent two years developing a way of resolving conflicts that worked for them. All their staff were trained in the methodology. The method even survived staff turnover, even leadership turnover, because staff had owned this change. Karen and other School’s Out staff didn’t make it for them, only provided guidance.