Best Practices and Program Evaluation for Better Tomorrows

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Organization:

Michaels Community Services Corporation dba Better Tomorrows

City:

Philadelphia

State:

Pennsylvania

Organization Overview:

Better Tomorrows (BT) is the non-profit social services partne of The Michaels Organization (TMO), an affordable housing developer providing comprehensive solutions that jumpstart housing, education, civic engagement, and neighborhood prosperity. The heart of BT’s work began in 1989 when Mike Levitt, Founder and Chairman of TMO invested in a new approach to property management for low-income communities. Levitt saw an opportunity to rethink traditional affordable housing management when working with housing manager Jackie Jones.  Jones, a pastor with an extensive background in Human Services before entering the property management field, realized that affordable housing communities provided an excellent platform for delivering impact-driven programs and services to vulnerable families, youth, and seniors with few resources available to them.

BT became an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit in February 2013 and now provides case management services and impactful community programming to over 20,000 low-income adults, seniors, children, and youth in 128 affordable housing (rental properties) communities across the country.  BT staff – including Social Services Coordinators and Regional Directors – have offices located within the affordable housing developments, allowing for direct access to the populations they serve.  We serve the most vulnerable populations, focusing on the areas of Financial Literacy; Job Readiness and Stability; Academic Support; Health, Wellness, and Nutrition; and Social and Community Engagement.

BT’s community services for families and children include enhanced academic support to students in preparation for postsecondary success. From STEM programming in our after school and summer enrichment programs, to daily homework assistance, and more, BT’s educational programming aims to foster academic engagement and advancement for the future of our youth. BT sites also host a variety of outcome-driven programs to help youth, adults and seniors improve their economic stability in a variety of ways, including job training, subsidized employment, job retention and job enhancement, following safe credit/borrowing practices, and sound financial planning. BT’s healthy lifestyles programming encourages participants to be active, eat healthy foods, and prevent chronic health problems. From exercis programs to community gardens, BT’s healthy lifestyles outcome-driven programs are goal oriented and popular across the communities the organization serves. BT’s programming is also focused on working to create healthy communities that are safe and supportive. Strong communities not only provide services and support to people who are in need, but they also help prevent social problems like drug and alcohol abuse, violence, and crime. In addition, BT has found that residents who engage in wrap-around services are less likely to face eviction or struggl to maintain secure housing.

The mission of Better Tomorrows is to encourage transformation by mobilizing resources to magnify opportunities. We create healthy, sustainable communities today that lead to better tomorrows.


Project Name:

Best Practices and Program Evaluation for Better Tomorrows
Project Type: 
Program Evaluation; Strategic Plan

Project Overview:

Better Tomorrows is currently going through a strategic planning implementation process.  With this new strategic plan we are updating our current programming and evaluation.  The student would be working with the Programming strategic planning committee and also focus groups of Social Services Coordinators in the field.  The project will include updating best practices for all core areas of our programming. Our programming areas are Financial Literacy; Job Readiness and Stability; Academic Support; Health, Wellness, and Nutrition; and Social and Community Engagement.  We would also like the students to complete logic models and theory of change models for all 5 core areas of programming for the residents we serve.  Ideally students would be conducting research both internally and externally with stakeholders in our community.  This research helps us better understand the impact we have in the communit and with our residents in particular.

Deliverable(s):
A successful project will include the following deliverables:

      1. A list of best practices from industry leaders for all 5 core program areas at Better Tomorrows
      2. Theory of Change and Logic Models created for all 5 core program areas.
      3. Research possible partnerships to best deliver our programming at both Senior and Family residential sites.

These deliverables will enhance the work that Better Tomorrows' team of Social Service Coordinators does at our sites across the country. We will have established best practices and standards to guide our work.

Project Timeline:
Project timeline is flexible.  Best practices deliverable needs to be completed by April 2022. Theory of Change and Logic Models deliverable needs to be completed by August 2022.  Research of possible partnership will be completed alongside other deliverables.

Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326
felsinstitute@sas.upenn.edu