During the summer of 2016, ARCHS welcomed Alysson Gatens, a graduate student fromUniversity of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL), for an Applied Research Internship opportunity at ARCHS. Gatens utilized her background and skills in criminal justice and in program evaluation to analyze and make recommendations about ARCHS’ Culinary Institute.
"This project was a great opportunity for me to design and carry out an evaluation from start to finish, as well as collaborate with a variety of program stakeholders," said Gatens.
The evaluation was conducted with cooperation of staff from ARCHS and Employment Connection, culinary arts faculty from St. Louis Community College – Forest Park, and Institute graduates. The Institute began its first cohort in 2013 by serving women recently released from prison. By 2016 the Institute had expanded its fourth cohort to include men with a similar criminal justice history.
The program has provided these 55 adults with vocational skills in culinary arts and wrap-around resources as a way to increase employability and reduce recidivism. Overall the evaluation showed that, despite the desired level of job stability not being attained, the recidivism goals were achieved consistently and successfully. ARCHS will use the recommendations to make further improvements in the program’s design.
Best practices indicate that dollars invested in ex-offenders working and law-abiding are returned to the community not only in lower prison system costs but also in enhanced public safety, increased earning tax revenues, and strengthened families.
Fourth to sixth grade youth from the After School for All Partnership in St. Louis (ASAP) summer program participated in a series of memorable fun and educational field trips in mid-July.
The first week involved 30+ youth from the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Greater Louis (Adams Park Club) and the second week involved 20+ youth from Neighborhood Houses. Each of the youth organizations spent a full day exploring nature and pioneer history at a public attraction near where they live, for a total of four days: The Green Center, Babler Memorial State Park, First Missouri State Capitol, and Castlewood State Park.
The Green Center, Missouri State Parks, and Missouri Parks Association provide the programming and support for this program known as the Show Me Science & Art Summer Experience (SASE) in St. Louis and as the Urban Population Outreach Project (UPOP) state-wide. The SASE field trips provided these ASAP youths a positive experience they may not otherwise have encountered, strengthening their sense of community, culture, and ecological awareness. This program is designed to give the urban leaders of tomorrow a taste of life outside the city’s urban core, enriching them with the beauty and knowledge of Missouri’s natural and historical wonders.
Photo courtesy of The Green Center.
ARCHS was proud to once again participate in the annual St. Louis Cardinals Redbird Rookies Health Fair on July 9, 2016 at UMSL. Area health, social service, and educational organizations provided Redbird Rookies participants and their families with important health screenings and wellness information. ARCHS distributed fun and informative health, child safety, and self-esteem building information to more than 1,000 parents and children.
During the summer of 2016, ARCHS partnered with Purina® to successfully pilot a social/emotional learning project at all three After School for All Partnership (ASAP) sites this summer. The ASAP summer sites were located in north St. Louis City and Jennings, in partnership with Neighborhood Houses and Provident, Inc., and served 130+ youth. The nation-wide project is Mutt-i-grees® and ARCHS will expand it to all 30 ASAP sites this fall, plus to ARCHS' funded programs beyond ASAP.
Mutt-i-grees® seeks to build calm, confident, and caring kids. Its innovative PreK-12 social/emotional learning curriculum highlights the unique characteristics of shelter pets (mutts) to teach essential skills for academic and life success.
The project is designed for use in various classroom settings, character education, after school programs, and libraries. More than 4,000 schools in over 40 states are using the curriculum, often in conjunction with bullying prevention and efforts to enhance school climate. Lesson plans align with the National Health Education Standards and Common Core State Standards.
Purina provided the three ASAP summer sites with professional development from North Shore Animal League of New York, grade-level lesson plans, pre-post evaluation by Yale University's School of the 21st Century, animal visits by local therapy pet organizations, and library resources.
Hard to believe it's already time for area families to gear-up for school starting. ARCHS has created a handy resource guide that provides information about local back-to-school fairs and sales tax-free shopping opportunities. It also offers parents a handy checklist to help prepare families as they return to school. Take a moment to review the guide and share with parents you work with.