IPA Awarded DeVos Contract
Date: March 1, 2007
Andrews University's Institute for Prevention of Addictions was recently awarded a 17-month, $51,279 contract from the DeVos Family Foundations in Grand Rapids, Mich. to evaluate the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative (DVULI).
DVULI is a national faith-based training program that prepares urban youth leaders to be more effective in their ministries. Over a 15 month period, youth leaders receive intensive training from national leadership experts in areas such as core values, leadership skills, self-care strategies, and collaboration with community partners. Now in its 10th year, DVULI has intensively trained over 450 urban youth leaders in 22 different cities around the nation. The founders and directors of DVULI are interested in assessing the various program components to validate the program's impact and improve future training programs.
The evaluation is being led by Curt VanderWaal, professor of social work and department chair at Andrews University. The evaluation will collect and analyze focus group and case study data from individuals participating in the project in nine cities around the country. This qualitative approach helps the staff and creators of DVULI to better understand the program's impact over the past nine years, with a focus on program strengths, challenges, and lessons learned in the process.
"The best way to truly understand a program is to ask the participants what they learned and how that knowledge and skill is actually being applied in their real-life ministries," said VanderWaal.
VanderWaal is also working with DeVos Family Foundation staff and researchers from Calvin College to design a more in-depth Internet survey for all 450+ program graduates. "This is a great opportunity for Andrews University to partner with another Christian college on a project that has impacted thousands of urban youth around the nation," said Edwin Hernandez, Foundations Research Director for the DeVos Family Foundations.
The evaluation provides Andrews faculty and student researchers an opportunity to closely examine the impact of a faith-based ministry.
"Critics have really challenged the effectiveness of faith-based programs. It's not enough to just say 'this program works' -- you have to prove it. This evaluation gives us a chance to take a close look at the processes and outcomes of one such program and see whether it is making a real difference in the lives of participants and their communities," said VanderWaal.