VISTA Community Research & Program Assistant | Vail Valley Foundation

VISTA Community Research & Program Assistant

VVF’s YouthPower365 provides year-round extended learning opportunities that empower and educate the youth and families of Eagle County from cradle-to-career. YP365 engages about 3,500 children a year in extended learning programs and is present in every Eagle County public school. The Parent Mentor (PM) program engages and empowers Hispanic parents in their children’s education and develops participants into educational leaders in their schools and communities through classroom volunteerism, training and individual support. This VISTA position will work directly with YP365’s Strategy and Research Manager and Parent Mentor program staff to build research and evaluation capacity that will benefit the entire organization and the Parent Mentor Program.

  • Spanish fluency required
  • Willingness to listen and keep an open mind
  • Willingness and ability to learn basic research methods
  • Completed or current enrollment in an undergraduate program or 2 year degree preferred
  • Previous undergraduate level research experience preferred

Research Projects on Issues Relevant to YP365 Programs and Grant Writing: The VISTA will increase the capacity and sustainability of YP365 through using mixed-methods approaches to research questions of interest to the organization. Areas of research could include parent/family engagement in after-school, social and emotional development and youth engagement. Methods will be relevant to the research question but might include: interviews, listening sessions, literature reviews, best practices research and analyzing secondary data. Gathered information will be used to alter programming, re-frame how we think about and operationalize our work and for grant-writing. Based on the VISTA’s personal interest, during the course of the year one of these projects could develop into a substantial research project of relevance to YP365 and the wider community, ending in a community presentation of findings and recommendations.

  • With the Strategy and Research Manager develop a list of research projects and prioritize
  • If needed, receive training on research design and methods
  • Complete research on 3-6 projects through the course of the year
  • Two significant projects are already identified: 1) Analyzing Vail Valley based non-profit organizations, and 2) Exploring and making recommendations to formalize the adult leadership network in the Vail Valley
  • Identify and expand on one of the research projects
  • Assist with small scale information gathering projects as assigned, for example: grant prospecting within a certain issue area or identifying Higher Education faculty working on family engagement

Parent Mentor Program Capacity Building:  With supervision from Parent Mentor program staff the VISTA will engage with the 2017-2018 cohort of Parent Mentors to build long-term program capacity in several ways.

  • Formalize program systems for the recruitment, training and coaching of Parent Mentors. Examples include developing a way to match community mentors with Parent Mentors or research that leads to the creation of a training manual.
  • Work with Parent Mentors and the administration at two school sites to explore approaches where the Parent Mentors can formally teach and coach school staff on culturally appropriate family engagement methods.
  • Support management processes of the PM program as assigned. Tasks might include creating event flyers or setting up events. In each case organize document templates or write up organizational processes for future use.

Supporting Program Evaluation Activities: The VISTA will assist the Strategy and Research Manager in working with two school sites to conduct and analyze program quality observations using uses the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality School Age Program Quality Assessment (SAPQA). In addition the VISTA will support the Strategy and Research Manager in gathering data for organization-wide program implementation and impact purposes.

  • Receive training on SAPQA administration, Qualtrics an online survey platform, and if needed program evaluation basics
  • Perform SAPQA observations at a sample of school sites
  • Take part in coordinating two pilot school-based learning teams to review and discuss SAPQA data
  • Write a summary reflection paper of the PQA results and process
  • Occasionally assist with research and evaluation data gathering and data entry, for example math and literacy assessments, program surveys etc.
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