The Center for After-School Excellence (The Center), a division of TASC, completed an evaluation of ASAP in Boston, New York City and Providence. The purpose of the evaluation was to identify program successes and areas for improvement and to determine if the program delivered positive socio-emotional and professional benefits to the apprentices.
Four research questions guided the program evaluation:
Overall, 153 participants completed both the spring apprenticeship and the summer internship across the three cities. There were nearly equal numbers of female (49%) and male (51%) participants. The majority of participants identified as either Hispanic (35%) or Black (33%).
Evaluation of the ASAP national expansion was two-fold. First, ASAP participants were surveyed at the beginning of the apprenticeship, at the end of the apprenticeship, and at the end of the internship. Staff members at each site were responsible for the distribution, collection, and return of the surveys to The Center. Second, The Center conducted focus groups with apprentices and site staff in all three cities using focus group protocols.
The cross-city evaluation revealed the following major findings:
>> ASAP participants were very positive about their experience in the program. Almost all participants reported developing better social skills, problem solving skills, time management and cooperation. 80% or more of the ASAP participants rated highly on group process skills, feedback and leadership responsibilities at the end of the program. Participants noted that their ASAP experience helped them to think more about their own development and future goals. ASAP also had a substantial positive effect on the participants’ health and physical activity levels, especially those programs that focused on sports.
>> ASAP had positive effects on identity development. Overall, the majority of the apprentices (60% or greater) rated highly on the identity measures used in this study. 81% of participants tried doing something new through ASAP, 69% reported that ASAP was a turning point in their lives, and 77% started thinking more about their future as a result of ASAP.
>> ASAP participants found value in the program beyond earning a wage. Approximately three-quarters of participants (72%) across the three cities who completed the internship stated that they would like to participate in ASAP again next year. Even if they were not paid, 45% of participants reported that they would participate in the program.
>> ASAP prepares participants for college and career success. Overall, 79% of participants in all three cities felt that the program opened up job or career opportunities for them. In addition, 44% of participants definitely planned on pursuing work in sports or arts after the program is over, while an additional 48% were considering pursuing this work. 64% of participants reported that ASAP helped them prepare for college, while 65% reported that ASAP increased their desire to stay in school.
>> Participants derived great value from their ASAP experience. While several participants reported that their routine during the apprenticeship was difficult because of their school schedules and responsibilities, overall, they believed that the internship period was very successful and benefited both themselves and the younger children with whom they worked. Many of the focus group participants found that their interaction with the younger kids during the summer internship was their favorite part of ASAP.
>> ASAP participants expressed interest in a range of future careers, with a particular focus on helping others and working with kids. At the end of the program, 93% of participants across the three cities expressed interest in pursuing careers that involved working with young people. 99% of participants expressed some interest in a career in which they could help others, and 67% reported being very interested in this career path.
>> Staff viewed the program as a success and appreciated the extensive training that their apprentices received. Supervisors reported that the apprentices entered their internships well prepared as a result of what they learned and with the relationships developed during their apprenticeship.
>> ASAP participants recognized varying levels of effort among their peers. Several focus group participants voiced concern that the other apprentices at their sites sometimes created more work for them by not taking the job as seriously as they did. On surveys, 13% of participants stated that they had to do more than their fair share of work, while 14% reported feeling stressed at their internship.