Program research and evaluation is a core element of The nsoro Educational Foundation’s work. We engage in regular continuous quality improvement cycles to ensure that our programs are highly-effective and that they achieve the greatest possible results. To that end, we have created a research and evaluation tool called the Self-Sufficiency Index (SSI) to gain valuable insights into our long-term impact and reveal ways in which we can improve these outcomes. Our research was guided by this central question: are Scholars self-sufficient after they graduate from college?Fostering Futures Fact Sheet
We engaged our evaluation consultant, Debra Semans, to design and deploy the research and analyze results. This is the first research of its kind in the U.S. measuring self-sufficiency in foster youth into adulthood. It presents a great opportunity to expand research into other markets for a more comprehensive problem-solving approach to the issues former foster youth face.
nsoro Scholars face unique challenges post-graduation. While they fair better than the general U.S. population in some areas, additional support is needed to ensure self-sufficiency.
The SSI survey was modeled after the National Self-Sufficiency assessment tool currently in use in social service agencies. By using this approach, Scholars would be familiar with the questions, and we could collect data to compare to state statistics. We designed custom questions geared toward an adult population, covering the issues of adult self-sufficiency unique to our Scholars. We next underwent a literature review of comparable statistics for the general U.S. population.
The online survey was emailed in April 2022 to past and current participants in nsoro’s scholarship program dating back to 2012. This 10-year lookback gave us the opportunity to segment data into various populations (i.e. current Scholars, past Scholars who had experienced the Fostering Futures curriculum, and Scholars who matriculated through our previous curriculum, College Bound).
Scholars need additional support to achieve self-sufficiency after they graduate from college, specifically in housing security, under and unemployment, food security and mental health.
The workforce development components of our program, including the nsoroWorks internship initiative, must be expanded to more fully prepare Scholars for the workplace. This expanded program provides access points to high-demand internships with the likelihood of equitable employment with health benefits after graduation and strengthens professional skills that will position greater success in the workplace.
While financial literacy is one of our three core teachings in the Fostering Futures curriculum, we must add additional program components to prepare students for success in managing the expenses of living after graduation, and on long-term saving and investment.
We must ensure all volunteers, staff, and mentors are equipped to provide trauma-informed services to our Scholars. To this end, we have engaged in a partnership with Boston’s Lakeside Institute to provide evidence based training and certification. This includes “brain health” sessions with our Scholars, themselves.