2015 Program Evaluation:
Columbia School of Social Work
A group of students at Columbia’s School of Social Work assessed the effectiveness of S.O.U.L. Sisters’ afterschool workshops conducted at Girls Prep Lower East Side Middle School in NYC. The evaluation aimed to look at how successful these workshops were in achieving S.O.U.L. Sisters’ mission of using leadership, social justice, healing, and the arts to support participants on their path to self, community, and global change.
Surveys were distributed to the girls as well as to staff at Girls Prep who interact with S.O.U.L. Sisters’ participants on a regular basis. The qualitative and quantitative questions aimed to understand the girls’ perspective on what they have learned during the workshops and where they saw room for improvement. The questions for staff were intended to see if there was any noticeable differences in the leadership skills and social justice awareness of workshop participants.
The results exceeded expectations!!
- 14 total survey participants
- 9 youth (75% of all workshop participants)
- 5 staff members (45% of staff who interact with workshop participants)
Highlights from youth participant responses:
- Know more about social justice issues since starting S.O.U.L. Sisters.
- Have a better idea about what racism, privilege, and the LBTQIA+ community are since being in S.O.U.L. Sisters.
- Want to be leaders in their communities since starting S.O.U.L. Sisters.
- Have learned more about their own identities since starting S.O.U.L. Sisters.
- Feel like they can trust their sisters and share what’s on their mind at workshops.
Highlights from staff responses:
- Noticeable increase in girls’ knowledge around social justice issues since starting S.O.U.L. Sisters.
- Increased leadership development and initiative seen in youth participants.
- S.O.U.L. Sisters had a positive impact on the girls’ ability to connect with one another.
- Would recommend S.O.U.L. Sisters programming to a young woman of color.
- Skills learned in workshops were seen to transfer beyond the program setting.
The results were contextualized in relevant theories through a literature review by the researching team. Positive alignment was found between S.O.U.L. Sisters’ underlying theories of change and the four theories found to be the most effective foundations in establishing environments that empahsize change through the facilitation of participants adopting healthy behaviors. These four theories are:
- Social Justice Leadership Theory
- Theoharis, G. (2007). Social Justice Educational Leaders and Resistance. Toward a Theory of Social Justice Leadership. Educational Administration Quarterly, 43(2), 221-258.
- Social Ecological Theory
- Elder, J. P., Lytle, L., Sallis, J. F., Young, D. R., Steckler, A., Simons-Morton, D., … & Ribisl, K. (2007). A Description of the Social–Ecological Framework Used in the Trial of Activity for Adolescent Girls (TAAG). Health Education Research, 22(2), 155-165.
- Social Cognitive Theory
- Ramirez, E., Kulinna, P. H., & Cothran, D. (2012). Constructs of physical activity behaviour in children: The usefulness of Social Cognitive Theory. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13(3), 303-310.
- Critical Literacy Theory
- Norton, N. E. (2011). Cutting Like a Razor: Female Children Address Sexism and Sexuality Through Poetry. Curriculum Inquiry, 41(4), 433-455.
Researchers on this Evaluation:
Aisha Brownlee, Justin Hashimoto, Ollie LaViolette & Shanée Smith
2013 Leadership Development Assessment
The SOUL Sisters Collective builds off of the success of SOUL Sisters Leadership Project, a two-week leadership project for 14 NYC court-involved girls led by Co-founder Tanisha Douglas in 2013. Participants completed surveys upon completion of the 2013 program.
The 2013 program had major impact on participants’ leadership, social & political awareness, career, social and emotional skills, communication & peer relations, and recidivism.
Our results were stellar!
100% Expanded their perception of who leaders are;
100% Feel more confident in their leadership;
100% Are more able to speak up for what they believe in, even if it is unpopular to do so.
Social & Political Awareness:
100% Showed an increase in motivation to fight for social justice;
100% Were more aware of individuals and organizations working on social justice issues.
Expanded Career & Life Options:
100% Feel more positive about their future;
100% Have expanded knowledge of potential careers;
100% Feel more inspired to attend college.
Social and Emotional Growth:
100% Feel more confident;
100% Are better able to resolve conflicts.
Peer Relations & Communication:
100% Felt a sense of sisterhood;
100% Are better able to work in a group;
100% Have improved verbal and written communication skills.
At 3 months post-programming…
No girls had received new criminal charges;
ALL were engaged in extracurricular activities or employed;
All were attending school on a regular basis.