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Business Case Analysis for

GSBC Spirits Football, Cheer, and Mentoring Program

(Prepared March 31, 2016)                                   

 

Executive Summary:

     The City of Petersburg faces severe challenges in that it currently is experiencing extremely high levels of poverty and a lack of parental involvement in the lives and activities of youths.  As a result a disproportionate amount of children in the city are falling into categories commonly identified as “At-Risk” due to the high risk behaviors associated with them.  Studies show that in the United States large numbers of young children are affected by one or more risk factors that have been linked to academic failure and poor health and at the forefront of this problem is poverty and family economic hardship. In addition to the numerous health risk associated with current economic conditions, there are other negative outcomes such as high school graduation rates, teen pregnancies and high unemployment rates.  School accreditation is also an issue that plagues the youth of the city.

     Studies supports that income has a direct effect on cognitive and behavioral development.  Studies  further identify that children living in homes with a single parent family or low parent education level, when combined with poverty drastically increase children’s chances of adverse outcomes.  Families are the most critical component in the development of children, however risk factors such as poverty, single parenthood, and low parental education levels, have been found to undermine children’s development.   The community, neighborhood and school are major contributors to an at-risk environment.  Some factors associated with community are rates of poverty, crime, unemployment, or teen parenthood in the community.  For example, a low income community with a high crime rate and a low high school graduation rate might be viewed as a place that puts children at risk for poor life outcomes.   Comparative statistics indicate the city ranks near the bottom in most critical risk factors when compared to other localities in the State of Virginia.  The lack of parental involvement and support in school or extra-curricular activities of youth negatively contributes to the emotional health, self- esteem, and educational attainment of youth.  The GSBC Spirits football and cheering program was restructured in an effort to address some of the concerns of the city which slowly weaved its way into the program.

     Parental involvement is critical to a child’s development.  Research supports that when a parent takes time to become actively engaged in all aspects of a child’s life, a message is sent that they genuinely care about their interests and activities which results in higher self-esteem, a feeling of self-worth, positive attitudes and behaviors and well-adjusted social skills.  Our restructuring effort has been designed to require parent or guardian engagement upfront with the hope of building on any success.  We have added a mentoring aspect to our program with the expectation that our participants have at least one quality supportive adult relationship that assures participants that they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and make them feel like they matter.  The GSBC Spirits program wants to serve as a catalyst or protective factor in order to increase the chance of better outcomes. 

     Research validates that quality mentoring relationships significantly benefit young people, especially those perceived to be at risk.  Mentors provide them with the confidence, resources, continuity, and support they need to achieve their potential. 

 

Problem Statement:     

 

     A study conducted by the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health entitled, “Young Children at Risk” states, “Across the U.S., large numbers of young children are affected by one or more risk factors that have been linked to academic failure and poor health.”   At the forefront of this problem is poverty and family economic hardship, which is consistently associated with negative academic and health outcomes.  In addition to the health risk associated with current economic conditions, there are other negative outcomes affecting the community such as high school graduation, teen pregnancy and high unemployment rates.  Two other core issues affecting the community are the lack of parental involvement in the lives and activities of the youth of the community and the Petersburg public school system which struggles to be consistently accredited.  While they have made significant progress one of the two middle schools remains unaccredited for the eighth straight year.  As further evidence of Petersburg’s poverty, all children now in public schools are eligible for free or reduced lunch based upon economic/sociological conditions. 

 

Analysis of the Situation:    

    

     As the, “Young Children at Risk” study indicates there are several risk factors that contribute to or are linked to poor health and academic failure.  The study further states that as early as 24 months that lag in cognitive and behavioral development can be clearly identified between lower and higher income families.  The study identifies that children living in homes with a single parent family or low parent education level, when combined with poverty drastically increase children’s chances of adverse outcomes.  The study states that the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) based on 2012 data for a family of three was $19,090.  The U.S. Census Bureau statistics indicate that for the years 2009-2013, that in the City of Petersburg the average persons per household equates to 2.53 or 3 persons; while the Per capita money income in the past 12 months was $18,936.  Families are the most critical component in the development of children.  Family risk factors such as poverty, single parenthood, and low parental education levels, have been found to undermine children’s development.   The community, neighborhood and school are also major contributors to an at-risk environment.  Some factors associated with community are rates of poverty, crime, unemployment, or teen parenthood in the community.  For example, a low income community with a high crime rate and a low high school graduation rate might be viewed as a place that puts children at risk for poor life outcomes.  

     Comparative statistics provided by the Robert Wood Foundation show that 47% of children in the City of Petersburg live in poverty versus a state rate of 16%.  The negative results of poverty have proven to be a major contributor to the increased risk of mortality, prevalence of medical conditions and disease incidence, depression, intimate partner violence, and poor health behaviors.  While negative health risk significantly impacts children, it effects all ages.  Closer examinations of the socio-economic statistics for Petersburg indicate the following:

 

  1. 70% of children in the City of Petersburg live in single parent households versus 30% statewide.  Research suggest that adults and children in single-parent households are at risk for adverse health outcomes such as mental health problems including substance abuse, depression, and suicide and unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and excessive alcohol use. 

 

  1. High school graduation rates for Petersburg are 68% versus 83% for the State of Virginia.  Education not only affects one’s health, it could have multi-generational implications.  The study says evidence directly links maternal education with the health of her offspring through resources available to the children, and indirectly through the quality of schools that the children attend.   On the flip side, increased education improves an individual’s self-perception of both his and her sense of personal control and social standing, which also have been shown to predict higher self-reported health status.  

 

  1. Unemployment in Petersburg is 10% versus 5.5% in the state of Virginia. The effects of unemployment are believed to lead to an increase in unhealthy behaviors related to alcohol and tobacco consumption, diet, exercise, and other health related behaviors, which in turn can lead to increased risk for disease or mortality, especially suicide.  Because employer-sponsored health insurance is the most common source of health insurance coverage, unemployment can also limit access to health care. 

   

     Again comparative statistics provided by the Robert Wood Foundation shows that Teen pregnancy rates the City of Petersburg are extremely higher than other localities in the state.  Children are born to teens at a rate of 97 per 1,000 female population (age 15-19) versus a Virginia Statewide rate of 29.  Evidence suggest that teen pregnancy significantly increases the risk of repeat pregnancy and for contracting sexually transmitted infection, both of which result in adverse health outcomes for mothers, children, families, and communities.  In the City of Petersburg there is also a major concern regarding the lack of parental involvement and support in school or extra-curricular activities.  The lack of that involvement negatively contributes to the emotional health, self- esteem, and educational attainment of youth.  Many of the at risk behaviors that we have already identified such as teen pregnancy, substance abuse, sexual behaviors, delinquency, and academic achievements are also negatively affected. 

     The GSBC Spirits football and cheering program started in 2008 and made significant progress over seven years of operation.  The original teams were primarily made up of children who were members of Good Shepherd Baptist Church.  We had two teams and a cheerleading squad and played all but one of its games in Maryland or North Carolina over a two year period.  In 2010 our make-up changed in that, we began to attract children from the community as well as the surrounding localities.  While the majority of the participants still came from the City of Petersburg the program begin to take on a more regional flavor.  With the change in demographics we experienced both success on the field and the opportunity to provide a positive environment for the overall development of our participants.  This transition resulted in instant success resulting in four of our five teams winning State Championships and our Cheerleaders winning a National Championship in Florida.  In spite of the athletic success, we became aware of the same issues that are so prevalent in the community such as the lack of parental involvement and a lack of accountability.  The lack of accountability resulted in fees not being paid, equipment not being returned, participants not showing up for practice or games, and some parents never being seen after signing the participant up.  With each year the number of participants from the community increased and as of the end on the 2014 season stood at approximately eighty-five percent.  There has been a direct correlation between that increase in community participation and the stated issues in our program which became progressively worst resulting in the suspension of our program in 2015 in order to facilitate a restructuring effort.

 

Solutions Options:

 

     Parental involvement is critical to a child’s development.  Research supports that youths who have the benefit of parental involvement are less likely to exhibit adverse behaviors and engage in risk behaviors.  When a parent takes time to become actively engaged in all aspects of a child’s life, a message is sent that they genuinely care about their interests and activities which results in higher self-esteem; a feeling of self-worth; positive attitudes and behaviors and well-adjusted social skills.  Our restructuring effort has been designed to engage a parent or guardian with one of the requirements being to attend one of a minimum of three informational meetings where all the expectations and requirements will be explained.  This meeting must be attended in order for the child to participate.  Separate Expectation Agreements have been drafted for parents, participants, and coaches which clearly spell out all requirements.  To increase accountability, a parent must sign a document for all equipment that is issued and take responsibility for its return.  While we can’t require a parent or guardian to attend games or practice, these small steps will force some interaction on their part.    Based on past experience we believe this effort will make a difference for many participants.  

    We have added a mentoring aspect to our program with the expectation that our participants have at least one quality supportive adult relationship.  In data provided by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership it states, “Mentoring at its core, guarantees young people that there is someone who cares about them, assures them they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and makes them feel like they matter.  Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on young people in a variety of personal academic and professional situations.  Ultimately mentoring connects a young person to personal, academic and professional situations; growth and development; and social and economic opportunity.”  The study further states that young adults who were at-risk for falling off the track but had a mentor are 55% more likely to enroll in college; 78% more likely to volunteer regularly; 90% are interested in becoming a mentor; and 130% more likely to hold leadership positions.  In addition youth who meet regularly with their mentors are 46% less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and 27% less likely to start drinking.

     One of the goals of this program is to improve academic skills and grades in school, delay sexual initiation, and to develop conflict resolution skills as well as sports competence by having a consistent adult presence in a young person’s life.  The GSBC Spirits program wants to serve as a catalyst or protective factor in order to increase the chance of better outcomes.  Other research suggest that structured physical fitness or training programs positively affect a variety of serious problem behaviors of at risk youth such as increased self-esteem, increased acquisition of life skills such as goal-setting, planning, and increased values development.  These programs also contributed to lowered substance abuse and criminal behavior.

 

Project Description:

 

     The project combines football and cheerleading (both sideline and competition) with mentoring.  The purpose is to provide at risk youth an opportunity to develop personally and grow holistically through sports.  Based on historical data, the program as it exist cost approximately $25,000 a year to operate.  This cost varies based on transportation cost (buses) and how much equipment and uniforms are purchased and or replaced.  This cost doesn’t include cost for any team that would win a state championship which makes them eligible for a berth in the National Championship tournament held in Florida.   It is estimated the program will cost a minimum of $30,000 this year.  Estimated cost is based on fielding a full slate of teams, having a true and separate competition squad, purchasing additional equipment, additional transportation cost and adding the mentoring program. 

 

Cost-Benefit Analysis:

 

     Mentoring programs are increasing in popularity and value and serve as a vital source for connecting youth with committed and caring adults.  The results of these relationships serve to shape the attitudes and develop the skills of protégés with the expectation they will become productive citizens.  At the same time it still remains a challenge and a limited amount of data is available that effectively quantifies the benefits of youth mentoring programs in terms of comparative program costs in order to calculate a valid social return-on-investment (SROI).  Research supports that mentoring clearly addresses several of the challenges we now face.    Some of the quantifiable values that can be applied to mentoring programs are as follows:

  • Improved school attendance; performance; and reduced truancy - results in reduced high school dropout rates and increased school graduation rates.  This performance indicator also reflects increased college enrollment; and ultimately higher lifetime earnings.
  • Improved health outcomes - directly credited to reductions in teen pregnancies; reduced or delayed use of tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drug use.
  • Reduced juvenile crime (both violent and property crimes) – results in saving victim costs; court costs; and costly treatment and retention of juvenile offenders.
  • Reduced costs of adult crime – both the crime losses of victims and the costs to society for the prosecution and incarceration of adult offenders.
  • Reduced needs for social services - in terms of near-term costs of counseling and long-term costs of public assistance.

 

Economically, quality youth mentoring is a proven investment.  There is roughly a $3 return to society for every $1 invested.  Studies regularly cite a child’s consistent relationship with non-familial adults as a key drive for breaking cycles of poverty.  To produce an accurate and detailed analyses of our program, more detailed data on program participants will be needed in order to measure and document outcomes more precisely.  Our goal is to develop a measurable social return on investment reflective of our program participants.  This requires the collection and analysis of   data once participants are established. While we can generate meaningful historical cost data for the football and cheerleading portions of the program, we anticipate a modest increase for mentoring efforts.