The Time for Kids Initiative in Portland, Oregon: Challenges of Effective Multipartnering
Keywords:Youth development, after-school programs, recreation, educational performance, financing.
AbstractThe Time for Kids Initiative (TFKI) was a 3 year program coordinated by Portland Parks and Recreation (PP&R) in two of the city’s underserved areas which had a high proportion of low income and recent immigrant residents. PP&R partnered with 17 non-profit groups to deliver the program. The primary goal of TFKI was to improve academic performance. High school youth were recruited as academic tutors. Independent, comprehensive evaluations of the program were undertaken which measured registration and attendance, student attitudes, family assessments, and partner assessments. The evaluations indicated TFKI was successful on most of the parameters that were measured.Five main lessons were learned from TFKI. They were (i) difficulty in reconciling the missions of collaborative partners so they were consistent with TFKI’s asset building goals; (ii) difficulty in getting some partners to think beyond their own narrow, specific focused contributions and, thus, in the overall planning of TFKI; (iii) challenges in operationalizing the desire for the program to be comprehensive, since this conveyed a different meaning to different people; (iv) underestimation of the time needed to launch TFKI; and (v) importance of focusing the program on a single middle school in each area.Despite the program’s success, it was not expanded to other neighborhoods in the city which would probably have benefitted from it. The political and economic reasons undergirding this failure to expand are discussed.
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