Evidence2Success Framework Shapes Services for Black Youth in Miami

Posted December 8, 2022
Two teenage African American sisters dancing with their mother in the backyard in Miami

A team of ser­vice providers is work­ing togeth­er to bet­ter serve young peo­ple and fam­i­lies in Lib­er­ty City, a pre­dom­i­nant­ly Black neigh­bor­hood in north­west Mia­mi, Flori­da. The Mia­mi Children’s Ini­tia­tive — with fund­ing and guid­ance from the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion — is lead­ing the group. 

Lib­er­ty City is one of five com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try car­ry­ing out the Foundation’s Evidence2Success® frame­work, a mul­ti-step approach that cul­ti­vates long-term part­ner­ships focused on child well-being between com­mu­ni­ties and pub­lic systems.

The team in Mia­mi includes rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Mia­mi-Dade Coun­ty Pub­lic Schools, the Office of the Coun­ty May­or, the Jessie Trice Com­mu­ni­ty Health Sys­tem, Affirm­ing YOUth, the Urban League of Greater Mia­mi and oth­er com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions. In addi­tion, the Mia­mi-Dade Coun­ty Children’s Trust and the Key Bis­cayne Com­mu­ni­ty Foun­da­tion are funders.

Uplift­ing the Voic­es of Lib­er­ty City’s Youth

Lib­er­ty City’s young peo­ple have played an instru­men­tal role in the work group’s progress. 

It’s rare that lead­ers from such a diverse group of orga­ni­za­tions can come togeth­er to make deci­sions with Lib­er­ty City’s Black youth,” says Mil­dred John­son, a Casey Foun­da­tion senior asso­ciate. By pri­or­i­tiz­ing the voic­es of young peo­ple, this team is help­ing to ensure that local youth and fam­i­lies receive the best ser­vices possible.” 

The lead­ers relied on data from the Flori­da Youth Sub­stance Abuse Sur­vey, which mea­sures sub­stance use risk fac­tors and deter­rents in the lives of young Florid­i­ans. Last year, the team held three focus groups with Lib­er­ty City’s sev­enth- through tenth-graders. The young par­tic­i­pants dis­cussed their lives, com­mu­ni­ties, schools and fam­i­lies while iden­ti­fy­ing strengths and oppor­tu­ni­ties for improvement. 

These ses­sions — cou­pled with the sur­vey find­ings — led the team to iden­ti­fy three major threats to local youth. They are: 

  1. poor fam­i­ly management;
  2. poor aca­d­e­m­ic per­for­mance; and 
  3. sub­stance abuse 

The lead­ers worked to define respon­sive strate­gies — efforts that increased fam­i­ly involve­ment, enhanced aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment and bol­stered aware­ness about the dan­gers of sub­stance use and abuse. They set an annu­al goal of improv­ing each focus area based on pre- and post-pro­gram assess­ments and com­mit­ted to track­ing parental involve­ment in both school and after­school activ­i­ties over two years. The group also solid­i­fied a shared mis­sion: boost­ing the emo­tion­al well-being of youth and families.

What’s Next?

With a new mis­sion in place, the team select­ed the Strong African Amer­i­can Fam­i­lies mod­el to begin shift­ing select strate­gies into motion. Devel­oped at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Georgia’s Cen­ter for Fam­i­ly Research, the sev­en-ses­sion pro­gram helps Black youth build self-esteem and avoid the pit­falls of peer pres­sure while teach­ing their par­ents and care­givers how to serve as a strong sup­port sys­tem and safe­ty net. 

Giv­en the work group’s find­ings, Strong African Amer­i­can Fam­i­lies seemed like a nat­ur­al fit,” says John­son. Not only is this mod­el focused on the unique expe­ri­ences of Black youth and their fam­i­lies, but it’s also designed to give par­tic­i­pants impor­tant emo­tion­al tools that will serve them through­out their lives.” 

The team is cur­rent­ly search­ing for a local ser­vice provider to over­see Strong African Amer­i­can Fam­i­lies. Once select­ed, this provider will recruit fam­i­lies to par­tic­i­pate in the ini­tia­tive — a step that is expect­ed to occur in ear­ly 2023.

Learn about Casey’s Evidence2Success part­ner­ship in Tennessee

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