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.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, Spy Hop, a Utah-based youth media organization, effectively engaged several hundred young people in media arts education locally and nationally by swiftly pivoting to a bold experimental virtual approach. A study conducted by Convergence Design Lab reports that while many youth-service organizations furloughed staff and paused operations during COVID-19, Spy Hop adapted quickly and delivered virtual programs to a geographically and age diverse population of youth using principles grounded in connected learning.
We are Spy Hop: Showing up During COVID-19 is a 16 page ethnographic chronicle that vividly describes the challenges and decision-making process that occurred at Spy Hop between late March and early June 2020.
The report finds that Spy Hop succeeded as a direct result of its facility with three particular organizational behaviors and that these behaviors shed light on what collective resilience looks like in action.
Mindy Faber and the incredible Convergence Design Lab are invaluable partners, collaborators, cheerleaders, advisors, and friends. Their work has pushed Spy Hop and our teaching staff to deeply examine our pedagogy and push us to be better, to do better, to be critical thinkers of our own work. Through our partnership, Convergence Design Lab has given us the insight, guidance, and tools to empower us to better articulate our positive impact on the youth we serve and our place in the world as change-makers.