Overview

Unity offers free programming to youth in underserved neighbourhoods in communities across Canada including Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Northern Alberta and British Columbia. These programs are offered in schools and community spaces.

The Healing

Power

Of Sharing Your

Story

Integrates elements of Character Education, Equity and other school board priorities

Teach youth to express their stress and anger through productive artistic outlets

Integrates Unity Artists’ personal stories to relate directly with youth issues

INSPIRE PROGRAMS
Unity Day Assembly, Unity Festival, Unity Bookings, and Alumni Program

Refers to our signature In-School Unity Day Program (National), Unity Festival (Annual, Toronto), Alumni Program, and Bookings Department. Unity Artists perform and share their personal stories demonstrating how art can be a positive outlet for change in their lives. By 2019, more than 100,000 youth will have more ways to express their stress, awareness of Unity’s other programs, appreciation of the power of community and awareness of mental health and well-being resources available to them.

ENGAGE PROGRAMS
After School & Community Programs

Refers to our deep impact weekly initiatives, namely the Unity After School Program and the Unity Community Program. By 2019, Unity will engage more than 1,500 youth, of which at least 750 youth (50%) will have improved mental health and well-being outcomes through stronger protective factors. Youth attend programs regularly and contribute to the well-being of their community through mentorship, performance, and volunteer opportunities provided by Unity.

EVALUATION
Research, Methods, and Priorities

Unity hired Programs & Evaluations Committee member Matthew Hughsam as a consultant to revamp Unity’s Evaluation Systems in 2016-17. The process consisted of several research and priority-setting activities:

  • An environmental scan of evaluation practices of other arts-based programs that evaluation similar outcomes
  • A protective factor prioritization exercise that engaged 90 youth, 7 staff, and 3 alumni to identify most commonly cited impacts and outcomes. Self-confidence and self-esteem, social and interpersonal skills, goal-setting and inclusive, positive and safe community were identified as common themes.
  • A review of over 30 validated tools to measure mental health, well-being and resilience, along with consultation with 19 research and evaluation experts to inform survey development.

 

Unity’s Evaluation Methods:

  • Engage Programs: Through a survey, Unity measures impacts on overall youth resilience using a validated tool, as well as impacts on specific protective factors identified as priorities through the aforementioned prioritization exercise.
  • Inspire Programs: Through a survey, Unity measures impacts on youth’s options to express their stress, awareness of Unity’s other programs, appreciation of the power of the hip-hop community, and awareness of mental health resources using customized questions.

 

Evaluation Priorities for 2017-18 and beyond:

1) Demonstrate impact on and for program participants.

2) Demonstrate impact for funders and community partners.

3) Inform curriculum development, revision and delivery.

4) Inform frontline staff training.

Results & Evaluation

 

Survey Results

The following highlights were collected from students who participated in Unity Day and the After School Program.

OVER
2,000
SURVEYS IN 27 SCHOOLS

ACROSS CANADA

94%

OF TEACHERS AGREED:

UNITY STAFF CHALLENGED STUDENTS IN THE WORKSHOP TO MOVE BEYOND THEIR LEVEL OF COMPETENCY”

74%

OF STUDENTS STATED

THEY HAVE MORE WAYS

TO EXPRESS THEIR STRESS

IN A POSITIVE WAY

65%

OF THE STUDENTS STATED

THEY FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE

SHARING THEIR ART FORM WITH

THEIR COMMUNITY

65%

OF THE STUDENTS STATED

THEY FELT MORE CONFIDENT


Program Evaluation

UNITY conducted a literature review, which investigated the current research surrounding arts-based after-school programs aimed at at-risk secondary school students. The project was informed by a number of different data sources, including a literature review and analyzing programmatic elements to better understand the history and philosophy behind UNITY and how the program is currently being implemented.

 

The following 13 best practices emerged from the literature surrounding arts-based after-school programs in a secondary school setting:

BEST PRACTICES

01

The program has a clear mission and is organized around achieving those goals.

06

The program has a flexible curriculum and has content that is engaging and meaningful to students.

10

The program has a self-efficacy component.

02

The program has a safe, positive and healthy climate.

07

The program is rooted in educational theory and uses the arts as an avenue for improving other competencies.

11

The program includes stress management training.

03

The program recruits a diverse mix of youth to participate.

08

The program has a leadership development component.

12

The program establishes connections with families of participants, the school and the community.

04

The program should address barriers to participation.

09

The program has an anger management component.

13

The program practices frequent and ongoing evaluation.

05

The program hires, trains and retains high quality staff.

THESE BEST PRACTICES WERE COMPARED WITH UNITY’S

CURRENT AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMMING.

IT WAS DETERMINED THAT UNITY HAS IMPLEMENTED ALL

BUT ONE OF THE 13 BEST PRACTICES.

Research Credentials:
Name: D. Cameron Hauseman
Status: Ph.D. Candidate
Affiliation: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education / University of Toronto (OISE/UT)

For more information, check out MHIN
http://mhinnovation.net/innovations/unity#.VX8CvVVVikp

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