Since its advent in 2012, Phelps Aide Phelps Helps offers educational and career support to rural communities in the Stanstead area of Quebec, Canada. Faced with high levels of unemployment, underemployment, and low educational levels, Phelps serves as the community resource that directly addresses these issues head-on. They also provide a model for other rural communities experiencing similar difficulties with lower education and employability.
Phelps works to fill the gap between employers and the unemployed
While local Stanstead area employers are struggling to fill vacant positions with qualified employees, many community members are struggling to find employment. Of the area’s residents between the ages of 25-64, 34% of women and 27% of men are not employed. This mismatch between employers and potential employees can be attributed to Stanstead’s high drop out rates and the lack of bilingualism. Many residents are English-speaking; 54% do not regularly speak French at home and 23% cannot express themselves in the French language. This poses many challenges to gaining and holding meaningful employment.
Phelps’ vision is to empower a community through educational and career support by offering free programs designed to improve educational and employment outcomes for people ages 8 to 35. It includes one-on-one after-school tutoring, hands-on activities to inspire a love of learning and tools to help them succeed on their educational and employment paths. Programs for ages 16-35 offers workshops and one-on-one support for employment, reattachment to education, and educational transitions in postsecondary. Phelps also offers mentoring programs, summer camps, and family literacy. Highlights of success include a 30% rise in enrollment in 2017-2018 and none of the 67 high school students dropped out during this period. Nine young adults were reconnected to the education system, and 24 program participants gained short- or long-term employment.
Evaluations and assessments make Phelps better for all
It was established in November 2017 that it would beneficial to evaluate the effectiveness of Phelps’ nine current offerings. “With my background in program evaluation, I set out to perform a complete evaluation of our programs and the organization as a whole,” says Jayme Marrotte, Phelps’ operations and communications manager. “To do this, I needed access to a platform that allowed the complexity I needed for high-quality results. QuestionPro allowed an unlimited number of responses as well as the ability to use skip logic – a real lifesaver.” To reach their respondents, they provided a survey link during their program’s sessions, put up posters with the link indicated, and shared the link on Facebook messenger and through social media. The results allowed the organization to make changes that improved their already successful programs making them sustainable for long-term success.
After the success of the evaluation surveys, they also conducted a community needs assessment to identify what type of learning activities were sought by the community members. This community-wide survey revealed that French courses were in high demand in the area. This finding led to a collaboration with the regional Adult Education center to implement three hours each week of French language courses in the community. These classes have been very popular.
A typical project would take one day to two months to complete. The three major benefits for Phelps include:
- The ability to evaluate and improve all 9 of their programs by engaging community members, staff, participants, parents, teachers, employers, etc.
- The ease in identifying what community members wanted to see in their community. Phelps could then construct outreach activities around these responses while informing community partners of ways they could outreach/improve their offerings.
- Improvements to their statistical analysis and reports to share with funders and when appealing for funding and support.
Phelps and QuestionPro – A partnership critical to community improvements
QuestionPro’s nonprofit partnership program is the best in class. Organizations like Phelps choose us because we offer generous solutions, continued support, and empower every customer to meet their ever-changing research objectives. If you looking to asses and evaluate your nonprofit programs, do reach out to QuestionPro to discuss your options and research objectives.
“QuestionPro offers a fantastic survey tool for non-profits. This platform offers a high-quality product and customer support. It fits exactly what we need,” says Jayme Marrotte, Phelps Aide Phelps Helps operations and communications manager.