mentoring

Forecasting Demand for Andson Services

by Anthony McTaggart

Its the beginning of 2015, and that means that corporations - both for profit and nonprofit - have to report to both shareholders and board members.

I was engaged in a conversation with an engineer at a public corporation recently, where he (and soon, I) was upset about the potential for, and complete lack of forecasting that was going on for production of their product line. Initially, I said to myself "Why aren't they forecasting?" That quickly changed to, "Wait, why aren't WE forecasting?"

Forecasting demand is required for most businesses - but may be overlooked in the nonprofit sector. It’s the analysis of past performance in one’s organization, combined with data that alludes to demand for future products, performance, or markets. In essence, it can be a beautiful symbiosis of art and science, one that usually takes time to hone and eventually master.

Some of us are so busy in the day-to-day that we often don’t plan ahead for what's to come. That can lead to two things: Either we have unsustainable growth that causes unplanned budgetary expenditures, or we get into the "No" mode - where we couldn't possibly grow since we have no time to plan where that funding or partnership might come from. How are we to serve a rapidly growing community if we don't plan for it?

Every window in my office is used as a whiteboard

Going forward for the 2015- 16 school year, we as an organization will be looking at 55% of our programming, in terms of budget and locations, being attributed to pre-existing, in place programming; 25% will come from new funding, meaning new locations. For the other 20%, meaning new business, we will be engaging in real demand forecasting. What this entails, is paying attention to data across the Valley: population growth, new communities, new partner locations (like where a new library or Boys & Girls Club are planned), trends in test scores, and areas of general concern in the community.

This isn't difficult, but it does take meaningful dialogue and time - now is the time to start within your own organizations.

If you think you don't have someone that can do this, you might be pleasantly surprised. Look no further than your Development and Marketing team. Mixed with some programming staff, you can have a forecasting team built and deployed by the end of February! Great Development staff have their ear to the ground and are always identifying new resources. This is learned behavior and can be taught. Great Marketers are used to deploying new collateral quickly, and creating a following. Great programming staff can quickly engage in feasibility analyses to conduct new programs.

Our team is amazing, and we are willing to help! Please contact us if you want to grab a coffee and discuss how to become better at forecasting. It would be a wonderful feeling to know what the next year of partnership holds. We look forward to sustainability and planned growth going forward for both our organization, and yours.

Cheers, Anthony

Gordon McCaw Elementary School

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Gordon McCaw Elementary is one of Andson’s newest sites. Andson has agreed to maintain their funding so students can finish out the year in their after school programs. The school will soon to be transitioning into a magnet program. Not only will they be implementing our after school tutoring, but we will be assisting them in the process of finishing out their original curriculum before they begin the shift into new classroom material. This exciting new material will be centered on STEAM curriculum, which stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. Andson will be at McCaw on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30-4:00 p.m. with seven teachers and one support staff. These CCSD certified instructors will be helping grades 2-5 with homework and will provide small group tutoring. After this academic portion, students are provided a meal by Three Square, and then participate in a self-selected enrichment activity. During these times, the tutors will also be encouraging students to participate in setting goals for themselves to track their progress throughout the tutoring.

Unique to McCaw Elementary is the School of Mines. Current principal, Jennifer Furman-Born took us on a short tour and proudly told us all about it. What started as a paper mache project in 1998 has turned into quite an attraction. Teacher Janet Bremer along with then principal, Janet Dobry shared this vision. Today, with the help of community partnerships, students all over the valley can experience a simulated mine and learn about Nevada mining and history.

For more info on the McCaw School of Mines, please visit www.mccawschoolofmines.org.

Spotlight Site - Vegas Verdes Elementary School

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Andson operates after school programs in several locations, three of which are Zone schools: Hollingsworth, Sunrise Acres and Vegas Verdes Elementary Schools. This month, we are focusing our spotlight on Vegas Verdes Elementary School.Andson’s Homework Help and Tutoring program is dedicated to offering homework help and tutoring from licensed tutors for every student at Vegas Verdes' after school program by partnering with City of Las Vegas’ Safekey Program. The purpose is to provide academic support by assisting students directly with the homework concepts they may struggle with in class each day. Andson provides tutors and aides Monday through Thursday to work with 3rd and 4th grade students.

To learn more, please take a look at the short video below:

Nevada calling for Mentors, Tutors, and Motivators

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Strong Start Nevada is a community outreach program with similar education goals as Andson that believes that early childhood experiences lay the foundation for that child’s success throughout life. According to an article they wrote, “Young children’s brains develop 700 synapses [neural connections that support learning and skills] every second. Research shows that children begin developing their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills well before high school, middle school or elementary school.” How awesome is that!?  The younger the child, the more the child’s brain will retain information.

The Problem-

Nevada’s children have fallen behind in education. According to Strong Start Nevada, in Nevada we rank 50th in education in the nation. What exactly does this mean?

  • 70% of our children never go to preschool
  • 75% of our fourth graders cannot read proficiently
  • 71% of our eighth graders cannot do math proficiently
  • 42% of our high school students graduate late

The Result-

The destructive impact this has on our young adults who are struggling and not keeping up in Nevada’s current education system is limitless. Young adults are ill prepared for the world and work force, and in most cases they are not equipped to meet the standards that industries look for in their hiring processes. How many of our young adults are we talking about?

According to Strong Start Nevada:

  • 75% of young adults (ages 17-24) would not qualify for the U.S. military, or meet the physical, behavioral, or educational standards that industries also look for today.

At-risk children are:

  • 25% more likely to drop out of school
  • 40% more likely to become teen parents
  • 50% more likely to be placed in special education
  • 60% more likely to never attend college
  • 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime

The Plan of Action-

What do we need to do to better prepare our children in Nevada?

  • Get personally involved in your children’s education. If you are a working parent, send your children to an after school program where they can receive the mentoring, tutoring, and homework help that they need to keep up to speed with their education, and keep their learning process as stress free as possible.
  • Donate to organizations that support educating the children of Southern Nevada. Help provide learning resources and tools for them, as well as make sure they are affordable for all students.
  • Volunteer. Personally make a difference in a child’s life by volunteering in organizations, such as Andson, and becoming a child’s mentor, tutor, and motivation.

 

 

 

Change Attitudes in Youth, Results Will Follow

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With the heavy focus on data and assessment in the youth services area, sometimes it's important to take a look to the qualitative side. The results can be easier to spot and motivate staff and youth both to continue their hard work.  

This morning on Lifehacker there was an article featured from the blog, Ready for Zero, entitled “5 Big Mistakes Keeping You in Debt.” These articles come up often, and are usually a solid set of guidelines that most people could allude to all on their own, but don't.

 

One reason for this in particular stands out in this writeup.

 

They Forget to Change Their Attitude. This can be one of the hardest mistakes to make and one of the hardest to learn from. The reason is that humans don't like change. For the most part, we're comfortable with where we are right now. But for those of us in debt, usually we have to change our attitude to change our outcome. We have to start thinking in a new way and change how we look at money. The best way to accomplish this is to proactively decide how you'll incorporate new beliefs about your finances into your daily life.

 

As adults, we’re comfortable. Most of the time, far too comfortable. It’s difficult to imagine changing one’s entire routine or lifestyle - that’s why going to the gym or finding time for a new hobby can be challenging as an adult. What’s important to remember, however, is that these barriers are considerably lower for youth. Fads, games, and even circles of friends have an amazing power to transform a youth’s behaviors very quickly.

 

Andson works hard each day to move those behaviors and perceptions in youth to new heights - both in Personal Finance and Academics. Some days are more rewarding than others. What we’ve accomplished and witnessed this year in transformations, however, has been inspiring.

 

A student at one site I personally oversee seemed like he was on a path to medication, an ILP (Individual Learning Plan), and perhaps even counseling or some sort of treatment. A kindergartener, he likely did not receive any early childhood development, and was a distraction to the rest of the group. In just a few short weeks of structure and personalized attention with a tutor - behaviors have changed, the distractions have nearly ceased, and he actually likes doing his homework (gasp!).

 

Personal Finance and Academics do not have to be chore, they don’t have to be a fight - but we must take the time to invest in attitudinal change. The outcomes are clear, rewarding, and transformation can be seen on the spot.

 

Believe me, it will come quicker for youth than for most of us adults.

Are we the new Life Coach for kids?

When we go out and promote Andson to a possible partner or client (aka parents and kids) we try to convey the dynamic of mentorship in all our activities. The reason we are so good at what we do is because there is no off-the-shelf program for our youth - we must connect with them in 2013 and meet them where they're at.  

That said, more and more parents (and adults in general) are extremely aware of the lack of life skills that our students and youth receive these days. It's enough to spark the conversation of where these skills can be best curated - home or school, parents or teachers. That's a different article entirely, however.

 

What I am realizing more and more is that Andson, through providing academic support and performance programs, financial literacy programs etc., isn't just about facilitating curriculum - it's about motivation of young people through our passion.

 

What we're building here for Southern Nevada is a whole lot more than any program. I'm starting to feel that we are life coaches for K-12. That is, we can inspire, motivate, reward and see how many of the 4,000 students we've impacted this past year succeed through the seeds we plant.

 

Just look at what we're doing at the Back 2 Class Bash with Raising Canes and the TEAching stand. Yes, it's a beta program - this is the first run at it. We're not looking at this simply as an entrepreneurial lesson, however. Andson is teaching the concept of volunteerism and taking the money smarts you learn through business back to your own personal finances. This lesson is geared toward middle schoolers to learn through immersion.

 

Whether it's receiving a letter that a high school student is now teaching their mother about banking, or having an elementary student run into one of our tutoring locations to show us their report card, our programs are creating an element of motivation in young people that really parodies what you see out of these adult life coaching programs.

 

This is a service economy, and we certainly provide a service. Through our continuing passion, however, we are providing more than any single program ever can.

Mentoring Empowers. Period.

At Andson, we are striving to diversify our programs and give back in our local and surrounding communities in exciting new ways.  Being that we are a small group - this is easier said than done.  One area that we want to expand on is mentoring.  This has not been a mass effort - nor has it been achieved on a broad scale.

 

The impacts we've made however, certainly are significant to those we've mentored.

 

Most youths mean well - they may have a few traits that need "tweaking," or they could even need guidance that is lacking on the home or school front.  We want to touch on two cases that were encountered in the past few months where individuals from Andson have made genuine impacts on the lives of young people.

 

Jason

Jason is a youth from a Boys & Girls Club who had his future in order - he graduated from high school knowing exactly what he wanted to do with his life (culinary career), had the certifications to do so (through his unique charter school), and proved to be an outstanding youth in the club, at his school, and in the community.  One area that he struggled in, however, were the finer points of reading- as in completing the long, complicated paperwork that many teens have assistance with from parents or guidance counselors.  Jason had never moved forward on his FAFSA form; each time, he either had computer issues, or didn't know how to complete a particular section.  He was on his own, and the deadline was approaching.  An individual here at Andson was able to assist him through this process (as well as document it for our blog) and got his application in on time.  It wasn't that he didn't want to complete the application - he knew the financial consequences if he didn't - but he really needed someone there to make sure he checked the right boxes and read through each individual section.  He may have not completed this application on time, and may have missed out on a semester of college without our help.

 

The time then came where Jason wanted to get his driver's license.  He called upon Andson to help with studying for the written portion of the test.  Confused, but happy to help, we came to his rescue, and found he had failed the driver's test 3 different times.  Jason could drive, he was even a good driver - but reading through the questions and preparing for a written exam was not his strength.  Here was a young adult that works extremely well in his trade, but needed assistance with 2 very important pieces of growing up.

Bobby

Bobby is our second example.  Here is a boy whose parents had no intention of trying to raise him with any sense of values or morals.  At the age of 7, Bobby had never been to school, and had been encouraged to steal when necessary for his "family." Through nothing short of a miracle, he was able to be adopted by another family member and moved to a home that encourages healthy habits - one of those being actually attending school.  By finding out about Bobby, we were able to work with him over the summer and help improve his reading skills, closer to that of a first grade level.  It was also amazing to see his personality transform so quickly from untrusting and removed, to that of what a child should be.  He is now involved in Andson Academics, after- school tutoring program to solidify the work done over the summer.

 

These are just two examples of how individual-to-individual relationships can change futures.  Andson wants to explore methods for mentoring youths of all ages and various backgrounds.  We hope to make this a core activity of our organization in the near future.

 

(names changed for privacy)