The Health Fund’s Capacity Building program is a robust resource for organizations working to improve the health of Michigan residents. Through the program, Health Fund grantees and their project partners are eligible to participate with Listen4Good to strengthen their organizations.
Listen4Good helps organizations gather and analyze client feedback data for fundraising, strategic decision-making, and advancing equity goals. Participating organizations in Listen4Good receive access to one-on-one coaching support, group learning, and a core web application that provides functionality to build strong feedback loops.
This guest blog features a conversation between Listen4Good (L4G) Coach Betina Jean-Louis and Kendra Avila—Housing Manager at Health Fund grantee A.Y.A. Youth Collective—about her experience leading their Listen4Good project and the powerful organizational benefits of listening to clients.
L4G: Thank you for taking the time to speak to us. Could you tell us about your organization?
AYA YC: A.Y.A. Youth Collective creates communities, rooted in belonging, for youth experiencing instability and homelessness. We have a drop-in center for youth ages 14-24 who are experiencing unsafe/unstable housing. We also have housing units for youth ages 18-24. A.Y.A. stands for As You Are, and it is a commitment that every youth will find resources and authentic relationships to own their future.
L4G: Listen4Good’s capacity building program typically helps organizations gather and analyze client feedback data for fundraising, strategic decision-making, and advancing equity goals. Kendra, can you tell us why A.Y.A. Youth Collective decided to participate in Listen4Good?
AYA YC: In January 2020, we merged two organizations—3:11 Youth Housing and HQ Drop-In Center—to become A.Y.A. Youth Collective. Our Drop-In program is a resource for youth ages 14 to 24 who are experiencing a housing crisis, or who just need basic resources, people to love and accept them as they are, and a place to belong.
After the merger, we were looking for a way to create an equitable evaluation process that allowed youth to openly share how they experienced Drop-In. Once the Health Fund learned of this initiative, they graciously gave our organization the opportunity to participate in Listen4Good.
L4G: Prior to your participation in Listen4Good, how did you obtain feedback from youth in your programs? And how did Listen4Good support you in getting feedback?
AYA YC: Previously, our feedback loops were created internally. We worked with Michigan School of Social Work interns, and staff completed listening sessions with young people.
However, we found that there is a big difference between doing surveys internally and working with Listen4Good. With Listen4Good, we received a high level of support and technical assistance from an expert. The guidance through each step of the feedback loop process was pivotal.
As our feedback coach, Betina, you were amazing! You assisted us with developing our survey and administering it. It was incredibly helpful all around to have someone who was an expert in data and evaluation practices.
L4G: What kind of feedback did you receive?
AYA YC: The positive feedback that we received from youth in the Listen4Good survey was not unexpected. It was affirming for our staff, volunteers, and donors to hear that the overall mission of the A.Y.A. Drop-In program was being achieved and seen by the youth utilizing the A.Y.A. Drop-In center.
A.Y.A.’s most frequently cited strengths about Drop-in were the following: first, it’s a place where youth can access resources and food. Second, it provides a youth-friendly environment where youth feel seen and understood. We summarized our takeaways as 3 Rs:
- Resources: Feedback indicated that youth see A.Y.A. Drop-in as a place to acquire basic needs support and resource navigation, which is one of the core focuses of Drop-In programming.
- Relationships: Youth overall gave positive feedback about connecting with staff and would refer their peers to A.Y.A. Drop-in.
- Rest: Young people indicated that they would like more support in achieving their goal of obtaining stable housing.
L4G: That’s so gratifying for you and your team to hear youth identifying the strengths of the Drop-in Center. Can you share more detail about the areas where youth identified areas for improvement? How did A.Y.A. respond to that feedback?
AYA YC: Excellent question. Youth who completed the survey mentioned that they would appreciate more help and support with transportation. To address some of the transportation barriers, we have recently partnered with a drivers training instructor to assist youth in getting their driver’s license and permits.
Youth also indicated that there is a need for housing and housing resource navigation. For our second Listen4Good feedback loop, we will be focusing on the A.Y.A. supportive housing program.
L4G: Tell me more about the intended focus of your second Listen4Good feedback loop.
AYA YC: One of the challenges that we faced in our first feedback loop was meeting our goal for surveys completed, so going into this second loop we’re going to use Listen4Good’s resources to determine an appropriate incentive for completing the survey.
Our team will be going into the process more aware of what is needed capacity-wise to complete the Listen4Good feedback loop. We will continue to utilize your expertise and support as our Listen4Good feedback coach.
L4G: I’m looking forward to A.Y.A.’s second feedback loop, Kendra! I appreciate you sharing your insights here.
For more information about Listen4Good and other resources offered by the Health Fund, visit our Capacity Building page or contact Veronica Marchese at email@example.com.