Program Builds Results-Based Approach into Human-Services Work and Coursework

Posted October 21, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog programequipsemergingprofessionals 2017

Randy Nel­son was frus­trat­ed. As direc­tor of the crim­i­nal jus­tice admin­is­tra­tion grad­u­ate pro­gram at Florida’s Bethune-Cook­man Uni­ver­si­ty, he was short on tools to guide stu­dents who were learn­ing about reduc­ing racial dis­par­i­ties in the juve­nile jus­tice system.

But he found just what he want­ed — and just what his stu­dents need­ed — with Results-Based Account­abil­i­ty™ (RBA).

In the sim­plest terms, RBA works back­ward from a desired result and deter­mines how to reach the tar­get out­come. It asks orga­ni­za­tions and pro­grams three fun­da­men­tal ques­tions: How much did you do? How well did you do it? Is any­one bet­ter off?

We always knew there was a dis­par­i­ty, but there was no sys­tem­at­ic approach to address it,” Nel­son says. RBA is a tool stu­dents can use to go from talk to action.”

With sup­port from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Expand­ing the Bench® ini­tia­tive in Per­for­mance Man­age­ment, more his­tor­i­cal­ly black uni­ver­si­ties will be fol­low­ing Bethune-Cookman’s lead. Now in its fourth year, the pro­gram focus­es on bring­ing RBA to human ser­vices pro­fes­sion­als of col­or and to schools that serve larg­er num­bers of stu­dents of col­or. To date, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land School of Social Work and more than 1,800 stu­dents and fac­ul­ty at six his­tor­i­cal­ly black col­leges have been trained. In the 201718 school year, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at San Anto­nio will join the effort.

Pro­fes­sion­als from under­rep­re­sent­ed racial and eth­nic groups pro­vide valu­able skills, insights, schol­ar­ship and con­tri­bu­tions to the fields of phil­an­thropy, eval­u­a­tion and research, says Mar­i­an Amoa, a senior asso­ciate with Casey’s Evi­dence-Based Prac­tice Group. Yet, equal access to oppor­tu­ni­ties with­in key insti­tu­tions like uni­ver­si­ties, research insti­tutes, eval­u­a­tion firms and pol­i­cy think tanks can be elusive.

Because Bethune-Cook­man leads a con­sor­tium of four his­tor­i­cal­ly black insti­tu­tions in Flori­da, its adop­tion of RBA could have expo­nen­tial effects. The consortium—which also includes Edward Waters Col­lege, Flori­da A&M and Flori­da Memo­r­i­al universities—graduates the largest num­ber of stu­dents of col­or study­ing crim­i­nal jus­tice in the state, accord­ing to Nel­son. Togeth­er, the insti­tu­tions inte­grate RBA into a vari­ety of social and human ser­vice cours­es, from psy­chol­o­gy to edu­ca­tion to social work to crim­i­nal jus­tice. They also pro­vide results-based train­ing to human ser­vice and crim­i­nal jus­tice pro­fes­sion­als of col­or statewide.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land School of Social Work draws stu­dents from more than 20 states plus the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, and it edu­cates the major­i­ty of Maryland’s social work­ers. To date, the school has inte­grat­ed RBA into two grad­u­ate-lev­el cours­es and estab­lished a stand-alone class on the sub­ject, says Karen Hop­kins, asso­ciate pro­fes­sor and co-chair­woman of the school’s Human Ser­vices Lead­er­ship and Man­age­ment Cer­tifi­cate. Hop­kins has also devel­oped a train­ing mod­ule for human ser­vice pro­fes­sion­als to imple­ment per­for­mance man­age­ment using RBA with­in their workplaces.

Learn more about Expand­ing the Bench programs

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