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Community Engagement Pilot Project Report

Community Engagement Pilot Project Report

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One out of four adults in California is a high school dropout. Capital Public Radio’s documentary production unit spent five months looking at the crisis through the lives of four young people from the Central Valley, which has some of the highest dropout rates in California.
One out of four adults in California is a high school dropout. Capital Public Radio’s documentary production unit spent five months looking at the crisis through the lives of four young people from the Central Valley, which has some of the highest dropout rates in California.

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Published by: Capital Public Radio on Mar 28, 2014
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Community Engagement Pilot Project Preliminary Report

Prepared by jesikah maria ross December 6, 2013

As part of Capital Public Radio’s multimedia documentary Class Dismissed, the station and ten community partners in San Joaquin County worked together from May to November 2013 to create and share stories about high school dropout in California’s Central Valley. This 7-month long project was the first community engagement effort in conjunction with programming from CapRadio’s documentary series, The View From Here. The project was led by community engagement specialist jesikah maria ross. To begin the project, an interdepartmental group of CapRadio staff generated a stationwide definition for community engagement: Community engagement is working collaboratively to discover, understand and give voice to community needs, values, and aspirations. Next, representatives from San Joaquin county agencies, schools, and community-based organizations participated in a series of stakeholder convenings to identify key issues and stories to inform the documentary. Finally, CapRadio staff and the ten community partners co-created and co-implemented a community engagement plan linked to Class Dismissed. The partners include: • Asian Pacific Self Development and Residential Association-APSARA • Building Futures Academy/Youth Build • Community Partnership for Families of San Joaquin • Fathers and Families of San Joaquin • Family Resource & Referral Center of San Joaquin County • Lao Family Community Empowerment • People & Congregations Together, San Joaquin County • Teen Impact Center • San Joaquin County Department of Education County Operated Schools & Programs • San Joaquin County Office of Probation Community Engagement Project Goals The goal of the community engagement plan was to work collaboratively to create and share stories about high school dropout in the Central Valley in order to: • Help Californians understand the root causes underlying the dropout crisis. • Raise awareness of the connection between health and educational attainment. • Deepen understanding of the connection between the dropout crisis and its impact on local communities. • Increase media representation of underserved or marginalized groups in San Joaquin County. • Support local dialogue and problem-solving on health, educational attainment and community well-being in San Joaquin County.
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Community Engagement Plan & Activities The plan included the following activities: • Youth Voices Workshops A series of multimedia workshops involving San Joaquin County youth in creating and sharing stories about school dropout for the community media blog RView209. Community Dialogues Public conversations to discuss the causes and impacts of school dropout using stories produced through the project. Documentary Preview Party A gala event, hosted at University of the Pacific, bringing together project participants with producers, reporters and sources from the radio documentary to showcase media excerpts and share preliminary outcomes. Insight with Beth Ruyak CapRadio’s daily talk show went on the road for the first time in a few years broadcasting live from UOP Stockton with a studio audience. The live show followed the premier broadcast of the radio documentary. Community partners assisted show producers in booking guests and three became guests on the show. Cause Marketing Donors to the Fall Fund Drive were offered the option to direct part of their donation to local Friends of the Library groups to support activities that help promote educational attainment and community well-being.

• •

This report outlines preliminary results emerging from the community engagement pilot project in three arenas: Youth Outcomes, Community and Partner Outcomes, and CapRadio Organizational Outcomes.1

In August 2013, the project engaged 97 youth in creating and sharing stories of youth dropout through the community media blog Rview209 (http://rview209.tumblr.com/). 80 of these youth participated in the Youth Voices Multimedia Workshops; 55 of them (31 Female, 28 Male) attended at least two of the three sessions. 17 other youth participated through a class activity at Building Futures Academy. Collectively, the youth produced and posted 89 stories. Participants represented more than ten different cultural communities including African American, Cambodian/Khmer, Caucasian, Cuban, Filipino, Hmong, Laotion, Latino, Mexican, and Samoan—groups underserved and underrepresented in both corporate and public media.


This is an internal document designed to share provisional outcomes emerging for the project. It is written for CapRadio staff and community partners; consequently it does not describe project activities, participants, or methods in detail. Data collected during the course of this project can be made available to other groups of evaluators for the purpose of exploring the outcomes in more depth as well as demonstrate additional impacts. Page 3

RView209 had 200 visits (70 unique visitors) in August, and 351 between August and December (175 unique visitors). The blog has been visited by 546 viewers through a dedicated page on Capital Public Radio’s The View From Here Class Dismissed website. The average duration of the RView209 site visit is 7:13, indicating that users are listening to multiple stories.

“I gained a new perspective upon dropouts and their reasons for dropping out.” “Participating in the project I gained new ideas to outreach to my community.” “I gained experience reaching out to people by using social media.”

Of the 55 youth who attended multiple workshops, 30 responded to a short survey gauging changes in knowledge, skills, and attitude as a result of participating in the project (54% response rate). Significantly, almost all (26/30) reported having a better understanding of the different reasons why youth dropout of school. Virtually all of them (25/30) likewise indicated that they have a better understanding of how youth dropout impacts the wider community. The majority (21/30) felt that they are now able to create and share stories using a mobile phone and most (17/30) felt more confident sharing their ideas and experiences with others. The vast majority (21/30) also said they are more motivated to participate in efforts to address the issue of school drop out following their experience in the project. Youth Outcomes Summary The community engagement project involved a diverse array of youth who are underrepresented in the media to create and share their experiences of school dropout. As a result, they have greater knowledge about the causes and impacts of school dropout, more skills to make media to express their views, and greater motivation to continue to address the issue. Their stories give viewers access to new perspectives on both youth and the dropout issue. Nearly 550 viewers have visited RView209. The blog is a repository of stories that youth mediamakers and participating organizations can use in their efforts to advance educational attainment and community well-being.
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Ten diverse community partners came together to collaborate with CapRadio on the project, including alternative charter schools, community-based organizations, a faith network, and a government agency. While they each participated in many of the community engagement activities, the majority of their efforts focused on planning and facilitating the community dialogues—structured public conversations that explored the causes and impacts of school dropout using media and educational materials created during the project. Community Dialogues by the Numbers From the end of October through the first week of December 2013, community partners held 34 community dialogues, most taking place in different Stockton neighborhoods. Collectively, they engaged 437 residents in nearly 40 hours of conversations and community problem-solving. A wide variety of residents attended the dialogues, from youth on probation to non-English speaking parents, from teachers and non-profit staff to county workers, social service recipients, and religious congregations. The dialogues invited participants to write down what they will do to afterwards to advance youth and community well-being. The high volume of responses (220/437 participants completed Action sheets) suggests that the dialogues galvanized participants’ motivation to take some action that contributes to youth and community development. An initial review of the responses shows that participants committed to actions in four categories: engage in mentoring, get involved in community initiatives, be a positive role model, and provide resources and support.
“This discussion made me feel better equipped and more prepared to help the youth in our community.” “I will be a supportive individual to the struggling youth. I myself struggled, but I was able to succeed because I had a great support system and positive mentors.” “I will try to start a program to help the youth not to be homeless and not to go every night hungry. I would help them to try to get back in school and get jobs.”

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“ [Dialogue participants] were able to express themselves and by doing that they were able to heal from some of the regret and hurt they held in, as well as connect with others that have been through similar struggles. Youth were touched by some of the stories and are able to think critically about dropping out because they heard the outcomes from dropping out of high school.” “It gave our students a means to articulate their feelings and thoughts about an issue so close to home. Many shared that they will be the first in their family to graduate and a lot of students did not know the resources that are available to support them, so through this project there is a lot of hope.”

Partner Survey Responses Six out of ten community partners completed a survey asking about their views on project impacts. All six respondents felt that the project benefited the youth who participated in the project, all of whom came from their organizations. Project partners noted that as a result of participating in the project, their youth deepened their understanding of the dropout issue, developed self-esteem, gained communication and facilitation skills, strengthened their ability to work in teams, and increased their motivation to engage in civic life. Perhaps this response best encapsulates the range of benefits generated by youth involvement in the project: “Participation in this project has allowed the youth from the Teen Center to interact with other community-based organizations in the neighborhood. They were aware of the other agencies, but interactions tended to be one time only or for a specific event. The youth have enjoyed hearing the stories of other youth in their community and has increased their desire to work to help improve their community. Many of the youth were quiet and maybe did not have the tools to be able to talk about their own stories. This project has increased their confidence and improved their ability to communicate when speaking about difficult topics. It has energized the teens to get involved and to reach out to others.” Organizational Benefits of Participation Similarly, all six respondents reported that their organizations benefited from participating in the project. Some framed these benefits as giving them deeper insight into the causes of youth dropout: “It not only opened my eyes but opened a lot of other staffs eyes to see that there are several reasons why young people drop out.”
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Others noted how the project helped build their capacity: “This project has provided us with more experience in facilitating dialogues, especially discussing high school drop out prevention.” “We have learned new techniques for connecting with youth and our community.” A few commented that this project put a face on a community issue: “I have known about teenage dropouts for a long time but through this project I was able to articulate the issues more clearly and listen to the students more closely.”

“We really appreciate the opportunity to work with a new group of people. It has opened the doors for us in many ways. We have a better understanding of the root causes of dropouts in our region.”

“This project has brought organizations closer together in order to focus on a very important issue that has wide ranging impacts across the county. Even though the different organizations have different clients, missions and areas of focus, the entire County is suffering the effects of dropouts and the long-term effect that has on the communities. If we all continue to raise awareness about this issue, we will be much more successful in finding ways to make improvements...”

Five out or six respondents said participating in the project helped them advance their organizational goals related to school dropout. For example, one partner noted: “It really help us because we work in San Joaquin County more than two decades on education and community development. By participate with this project, it helps us to improve our current education program such as youth leadership, tutoring program, and mental health program. By gained more skills on community dialogue, our staff now feel more confident to conduct more group discussion, able to share more effectively (using soundcloud, website, and social medias), and also can adapt the community dialogue approach with our current project as well.”
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Or as another partner put it: “My goal is to provide high school dropouts with the resources they need to complete their high school education, learn job skills, develop as leaders and transform their lives. This project has helped us involve youth in the conversation to identify the reasons why they dropped out of high school and potential solutions that would encourage them to remain in programs that will help them achieve success. By engaging youth in the conversation, we have empowered them to take action.” All six respondents felt that the project benefited San Joaquin County, primarily by raising awareness and leveraging organizational efforts: “The San Joaquin County community has benefited by bringing more attention to the generational problem of high school dropouts. More focus has been placed on how to address this issue.” “It has allowed us to come together with partnering agencies in an effort to work together towards combating the drop out rate in San Joaquin County.” “[It] gives SJ [County] clear reasons to put school dropout on the top priority”. An Opportunity to Forge New Relationships Between Partners The benefit most often cited was the opportunity to forge new or deeper relationships with other local organizations focused on youth and community well-being: “Our organization has benefited by reconnecting with and meeting new partners that provide services to our youth.” “This project has helped connect our program with other agencies in the county.” “There are a lot of us working on this issue but the project helped us with our focus.” “We have all benefited from working together, sharing ideas and exploring new ways to work together on community issues. Partnerships have been strengthened and the youth have been encouraged to be contributing members of the team.” “It allowed me to network with other leaders in our community as well”.
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Some groups have initiated joint projects: “New partnerships have been formed to provide parent cafes to teach parenting skills. We are in the process of negotiating MOUs with Fathers and Families to offer Healing Circles and with With Our Words to offer after-school workshops that focus on spoken word and music.” Community Partners Continue Work Together After 7 months of close collaboration on the project, community partners decided at the their final monthly meeting to continue working together over the next 6 months to develop a convening involving systems leaders in which they will share the stories and data from the RView209 and 209Talks activities. They hope to engage decision makers in identifying concrete steps they will take to decrease school dropout. According to one respondent, “We are now connecting with partners to develop a plan that can be presented to our boards and the Board of Supervisors. All partners in this process have made a commitment to continue the dialogue and develop programs that will provide additional opportunities for youth to complete their high school education and be successful.” Partners Share Project Media Community partners’ favorable response to the project moved them to utilize project media in their own outreach and community development efforts. Half of them (3/6) shared project stories through their websites, Facebook pages, emails, and one partner used the materials to do outreach at an awards ceremony, “At the annual ABC awards (Action on Behalf of Children), all material was displayed on our agency projects table for the participants to read and take with them. We also had pictures of the community dialogues on a story board with samples of the comments. A staff person presented her story which was recorded on the audio section of the website. There were over 240 people in attendance at the event.” The partners have also presented the project through other venues. Half of them (3/6) shared project media at board of directors meetings, advisory board gatherings, and staff meetings. Another partner incorporated the project media into a variety of their programs:
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“We still share this message throughout our current program such as nutrition workshop, tutoring program, resident meeting, mental health program, and community events.” A particularly ambitious partner has gone so far as to share the project stories and materials nationally, “I provided 13 directors from across the US with a community dialogue kit and gave them a brief presentation on how to use the materials so that they can conduct dialogues in their communities. I have provided YouthBuild USA and the CA YouthBuild Coalition with the links to The View From Here website so that all 273 YouthBuild programs have access to the on-line program.” This same partner plans to use project materials after the project wraps up: “Gina and I will be co-facilitating a presentation with the Weber Point Coffee Club on December 6. The members of this group are retired professors and business professionals so my hope is that they will sign on as mentors for our youth. I will be using the dialogues after the first of the year with a focus group of parents and business partners.” Cause Marketing Provides Funding to Friends of Library Through the cause marketing campaign CapRadio led during it’s fall fund drive in October 2013, 311 donors contributed $1,900 to local Friends of the Library organizations. While we do not have numbers yet for what percentage of these funds went to San Joaquin County, it is safe to say that some amount did, increasing their capacity to support educational attainment and community well-being. Community & Partner Outcome Summary For the community partners who responded to the survey, participating in the project generated greater knowledge of the root causes and impacts of youth dropout and increased their skills in using media as a tool for raising awareness and public deliberation. It gave them more materials and techniques to engage residents in conversations on school dropout as well as produced local, relevant stories they can use in their community development efforts. It also provided tools and processes they can continue to use to support local problem-solving on issues related to health, educational attainment and community well-being. Perhaps most importantly, it forged new partnerships and the groundwork of trust and rapport that is already yielding new collaborations.
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Class Dismissed is the second program in the multimedia documentary series, The View From Here. The program is the first to include a community engagement component as an integral part of the documentary making process. Additional funding was secured for this community engagement pilot project. Community Engagement Defined Community engagement specialist jesikah maria ross facilitated an interdepartmental working group through the development of a working definition of community engagement—“Community engagement is working collaboratively to discover, understand and give voice to community needs, values, and aspirations.” Community Meetings Benefit News Reporters, Producers, and Editors Several CapRadio producers, reporters and editors traveled to Stockton (and from Fresno) to attend various community convenings during the 7-month project. They reported that they returned with confirmation that their reporting and the stories generated for and represented in the documentary were rooted in community experience. Meeting and listening to these “subject matter experts” became part of the reporting process, ensuring that final stories would not only represent the data on high school dropout, but also ring true to the San Joaquin County students, parents, mentors, teachers and governmental agency employees attending the convenings. The personal and professional connections made during the production of Class Dismissed and associated community engagement activities resulted in the collection of new and diverse sources on various community health issues. The View From Here plans to make these contacts available to reporters and editors in the CapRadio Newsroom. Increased Impact with Community Engagement In the two months2 following the initial broadcast of Class Dismissed, there has been a measurable increase in several key indicators of digital content distribution and reach. • • • •

1301 pageviews of Class Dismissed show page 255 pageviews of 209Talks story page 129 new followers to @CapRadioView Twitter account3 407 new followers to @CapRadioNews Twitter account4
September 20, 2013 to December 2, 2013 From 264 followers on 8/8/13 to 393 followers on 12/3/13. The assumption is that CE contributes to this increase. Page 11

• • •

Class Dismissed documentary was played 518 times (as of Dec 4, 2013) Insight LIVE with Beth Ruyak was played 95 times (as of Dec 4, 2013) 41 audio clips from RView209 and Class Dismissed web pages were played a total of 1,145 times (as of Dec 4, 2013)

Increased Web Traffic from Stockton Compared with the three months before the Class Dismissed broadcast, there has been significant growth in web traffic from Stockton IP addresses in the three months post broadcast. Analytics show: • • 30.9% increase in overall web traffic, and 91.31% increase in new visits.

These numbers represents a 12.42% growth in percentage of overall visits from Stockton IP addresses: from 1.85% to 2.08%. Increased Listenership from Stockton The six community partners who responded to a survey (see above) noted that because of participation in the community engagement pilot project, they listen to CapRadio (online or on air) more often. As one partner put it: “Capitol Public Radio is number one on my car settings. I have never listened to it before, very much enjoy it now.” All respondents reported that participating in the project has changed their views on public radio: “I did not know that Capital Public Radio existed. I listen to it almost everyday now.” “I didn't understand the importance of public radio, or even listen to it, until Capitol Public Radio brought it to my attention. Now I understand that they are to help recognize the deficits and assets in our community.” “I now view public radio as a partner in getting the word out about issues facing our youth and the good work that programs are doing to address these issues.” “It show me that public radio are more concern on society problems, work very close with communities, and able to provide the most advance technology.” “There is a wide variety of programming that can enhance our agency goals.”
From 1,875 followers on 8/8/13 to 2,282 followers on 12/3/13. The assumption is that CE contributes to this increase.

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“I've always loved public radio being a listener ever since I can remember but I truly love it more knowing that NPR cares about the communities they serve (I actually listen now with heightened awareness).” In fact, all respondents (6/6) strongly agreed that participating in this project increased their organization’s motivation to collaborate with CapRadio on future projects. Increased CapRadio Staff Understanding of Community Engagement CapRadio working group members—staff involved in hatching the community engagement definition and leading some of the pilot project activities—viewed the project as beneficial, especially for connecting to and serving diverse communities better. Working group members were sent a brief survey and 6/10 responded (60% response rate). When asked what they found valuable about the community engagement effort, they shared: “It is an effective way to engage listeners and non-listeners as well as donors and staff in understanding an issue in the communities we serve and where we live and work. Why is it valuable? It connects us to the community, it is mission centric, it changes people’s lives.” “Listening to our listeners is very valuable – this can help inform strategies for news coverage, marketing/outreach and membership.” “Our story telling can be more relevant, more in tune with the diversity of the communities that haven’t yet come to rely on public radio.” “The biggest benefit is putting CapRadio directly into the communities we serve, growing our brand awareness and audience across many platforms. The more we do CE, the more our brand reaches new people in our many communities.” “We need to separate ourselves from all the other media sources out there and the best way to do it is to be a part of the communities we serve – not just telling them what we think they want to hear or see, but asking them and listening to them.” A few staff commented on how participating in this pilot project shifted their understanding of the importance of community engagement. For example, one staffer commented: “I have to admit, I had a very limited idea of what community engagement could be. I thought the typical things – have a booth at the fair or at other events, encourage people to share their ideas BUT definitely not set the agenda for coverage (to almost the opposite extreme). Talking with the different participants and seeing them connect with each other, recognizing that sometimes the best thing we can really do as a media organization is just listen/observe instead of always being the ones talking.”
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CapRadio Organizational Outcomes Summary For Capital Public Radio, the project resulted in increased recognition, use, and loyalty. It created new listeners, increased web traffic (especially from San Joaquin County), and contributed to a growth in Twitter followers for program specific and general news accounts. It forged new connections to diverse communities and, in the process, diversified the kinds of stories and storytellers featured in station programming. In the process, it gave staff new ideas for how community engagement can advance departmental goals and the station-wide mission.

In a short amount of time and with modest resources, the community engagement pilot project achieved spectacular results for San Joaquin County community partners, their youth, and Capital Public Radio. The station now has an engagement model to scale and adapt for future projects, community partners are aware of how to pitch stories and stay connected to the station for future collaborations, and participating youth have new skills for sharing their stories over time—hopefully on CapRadio outlets. As with everything related to this community engagement project, this report has been a collaborative effort. Special thanks to the CapRadio staff and interns who collaborated to produce this report. Catherine Stifter Alan Gibes Madison Niesyn David Fuentez Andrew Nixon Thanks also to the youth, community partners, and station staff who completed the surveys and shared feedback to contribute to this report.

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