Spy Hop is youth media organization based in Salt Lake City, Utah providing over 18,000 youth, ages 9 to 20 with scaffolded programming in film, audio, music and design. Programs take place at its center in downtown Salt Lake City and across the state, in collaboration with schools, other community-based organizations, and Utah’s juvenile justice services. Working collaboratively with their peers and guided by professional media artists, students explore their creativity, identity and career and higher education interests.
Spy Hop needed an external evaluator that truly understood the unique and complex role of youth media organizations in amplifying youth voices and advancing youth agency and civic engagement. This meant creating an evaluation plan that would not only look at youth gains in media arts skills, social, emotional development and academic knowledge, but would examine the impact of youth media on audiences, communities and societal perceptions of youth. One of the unique challenges was to better understand how Spy Hop might use innovative audience engagement tools to elicit deeper and more meaningful insights around adult perceptions of youth experience.
We designed a new logic model and theory of action, created a rubric and assessment system based on real world competencies and authentic performance tasks, and aligned learning outcomes to national standards in SEL, media literacy, STEAM and media arts. We also trained Spy Hop teaching artists to build a community of practice in order to reflect on and improve their pedagogy. We worked collaboratively to develop a series of innovative audience engagement strategies. We are now building an alumni study to measure longitudinal impact. Check out our case study on Spy Hop’s virtual programming response to COVID-19 and our 2018-19 Evaluation Report.
Urban Alliance is a national organization that provides high school students with paid internship experiences, job skills training, mentoring, and post-secondary support, helping build their pathway to future economic self-sufficiency.
Urban Alliance approached us to conduct a program review of its flagship High School Internship Program and produce a set of recommendations for re-design, with an eye toward connecting the various learning experiences that students have in the program, focusing on the building of skills.
Using grounded research, we conducted interviews and focus groups with 11 staff, 5 mentors and 14 youth and led a visioning workshop with leaders from all 5 national sites. We synthesized the data to develop insights and recommendations to present back to the organization. In the second phase of the project, Convergence worked with UA to develop an integrated and intentionally designed approach for skills transparency so that interns can receive meaningful feedback necessary for growth, allow their skills to become more transparent, shareable, and portable, and help youth better connect to opportunities for success beyond the internship. This is being carried out through the design of elements such as an intern growth portfolio, a suite of mentor-intern communication tools, and a reimagining of learning content and the weekly workshop as a space for connection between work experience, social-emotional skill-building, and post-secondary planning.
ALA is committed to sustaining community engagement work in the field. Over the recent years, the Libraries Transforming Community initiative has worked to build the capacity for library workers to improve the well-being of their communities by equipping them with the skills necessary to listen to and lead conversations on important local and national issues. A more robust array of professional development materials fostering this work in libraries is a priority of ALA.
ALA’s Public Programs division approached us with the need for a more dynamic way to provide professional development to libraries in small and rural communities. Utilizing the content of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, ALA was interested in offering engaging learning experiences in order to build the facilitation skills of library workers.
We designed a series of multimodal interactive e-courses that armed these adult learners with a powerful new set of community engagement tools. We took a “project-based learning for adults” approach, grounding the courses in the real, nuanced experiences of library workers in small and rural communities. The courses centered the voices of library workers speaking about their experiences navigating the complex world of community voices, varied needs, politics, and conflict transformation. We built resources, interactives, and custom conversation planning tools in order to guide learners to create a concrete, usable plan for facilitating community conversations.
Convergence Design Lab is highly professional and flexible. Margaret, Mindy and team were fantastic about working with us and our project partners to develop an eCourse that is engaging and well-designed. The eCourse has gotten a great response from participants. We can’t recommend them highly enough.
—Samantha Oakley, Public Programs Manager, American Library Association