For our implementation plan we have identified three major areas in which we have to focus on to successfully implement our program: design, create, and optimize. The design phase has already been completed, this consisted of brainstorming and talking about the possible solutions we could create to solve the problem. The create phase was less challenging once the brainstorm phase was complete. Since we had decided to create a program the create phase consisted more of figuring out the logistics of the program, and we ultimately decided that building off of already existing programs was going to be the most realistic and effective. The final phase will occur after the implementation fo the program, and aims to track the influence that our program is having and try to make changes based on the feedback we receive from all parties involved.
When choosing a location to implement our program we looked at all the high schools in the Denver Public School system. We found a very wide gap between the financial status of the students at each school. We decided South High School would be our best option because it has a very diverse student population, and a large part of these students are using financial assistance of some kind to attend school. This means that this segment of kids at the school would be eligible to participate in our program. The benefits of partnering with a high school are that the infrastructure is already in place, they are a part of a competitive league, and already have paid staff members to coach these teams. All of these things will be extremely useful and eliminate many of the financial constraints we may have trying to create a new program from scratch.
The plan is to have at least a preliminary version of our program implemented by the next academic year. Due to the fact that we can piggy back a large part of this program off of an already in place team, we decided that our program could be financially sustainable based off of in-kind donations alone. That means we would gather equipment, which is often the constraining factor for many kids, and give them to an existing team at South High school. We would begin by collecting equipment from the University of Denver women’s lacrosse team first, we have estimated this could raise somewhere around $19,000 alone. This would be enough to support around 50 athletes. If our program were to find success and catch on, we could begin to seek donations from other large institutions and teams, like University of Colorado Boulder or Colorado Mesa University. This would be the best option since many college athletes are given so much gear each year and they have no use for the previous year’s equipment regardless of how good of shape the equipment is in. This could begin to provide equipment to all the schools in the Denver public School System.
Once our program has been implemented into South High School, we will begin to measure the impact it is having immediately and see how this translates into tackling the overall problem of dropout rates. We believe the best way to obtain information would be to have weekly or monthly progress reports form the stakeholders involved. This means the coaches, players, students, teachers and of course the school board could give us qualitative information which we can analyze and decide how to adjust our program. Or if it is working we will just continue to monitor it to make sure the results remain positive over time. We will also analyze quantitative data, but this will take longer to build up in order to show any meaningful results.
We believe this can be an extremely cost-effective solution to our problem, while it may not solve the entire problem of dropout rates it will certainly be a positive change in the way things have been going within the Denver Public School system and that’s what we are aiming to do. Help these kids in high school get more involved in their academic success by using athletics as a catalyst. By eliminating financial barriers and providing them with all the tools they need in order to succeed we believe we can do this one athlete at a time.
After running the numbers, we have determined that our program will be sustainable using an in-kind donation model. Our program will partner with the University of Denver Women’s Lacrosse team in order receive their old gear. Each player on the DU lacrosse team receives two new sticks and googles per year. At the end of the year, they will make a donation to our program providing enough equipment to allow the students at South High School who cannot afford equipment to play. This in-kind donation model is also scalable. In the future, as our program starts to grow, we can go on to partner with other colleges in the area such as University of Colorado Boulder, Regis University, and Colorado Mesa University.
By partnering with the University of Denver alone, our program will receive $19,400 in donations. If our program sponsors 10 student athletes per team, we would be able to completely fund 5 programs in the Denver area before we need to ask other schools for donations. Since we are partnering with pre-existing high school lacrosse teams, there will be no start up costs incurred by the program.
Success of our program is ultimately determined by a decrease in high school dropout rates in the greater Denver area. In order to establish a correlation between our program and a decrease in dropout rates we will look at specific statistics including attendance rates in general compared to attendance rates of students in our program. This will give an indication of whether our program is incentivizing students that historically would not be in attendance or motivated in school to their new attendance records. By looking at historical attendance statistics per student we will be able to follow trends and see the growth and impact of the program.
Another suggestion that links decreased dropout rates with the program will be monitored by yearly reenrollment. Repeat customers or in our case students with the program denote satisfaction or a prolonged impact. Creating a pattern with students shows success especially in relation to Social Return on Investment ultimately decreasing dropout rates in the greater Denver area.
We believe the simplest way to get these results would be through qualitative weekly progress reports form coaches, teachers, and of course students. Another aspect of this would be surveys to analyze opinion based information. Quantitative information will be based on rates of attendance versus absence, in both school and in athletics and finally informative numbers on dropout rates in the Denver public school system.
Our major stakeholders and audiences include not only our project team, but athletic personnel (coaches), program students, public school teachers, public school administration, the Denver public school system board, and the University of Denver Women’s Lacrosse Team. Each group and the communication process we use specifically is a crucial part to the functionality and long-term success of our program.