Evidence2Success Framework Shapes Services for Black Youth in Miami

Posted December 8, 2022
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
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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