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Draft Version: This profile has not yet received feedback from evaluators or program staff.

Program Description

Overview The A-Teams Initiative (A-Teams) supports Baltimore’s After School Strategy, which was developed through the Safe and Sound Campaign, a citywide effort to improve the well-being of children, youth, and their families. A-Teams works with and through selected Baltimore, Maryland, youth programs to increase the availability and quality of arts, academic, and athletics activities for the city’s underserved middle school youth during the out-of-school hours.
Start Date 1999
Scope local
Type after school, summer
Location urban
Setting public school, community-based organization, religious institution, private facility, recreation center
Participants middle school youth (11–14 year olds)
Number of Sites/Grantees 27 programs in 2001 (17 arts, 4 academics, and 6 athletics) and 23 programs in 2002 (12 arts, 4 academics, and 7 athletics) in 15 high-poverty neighborhoods
Number Served 1,604 in 2001 and 2,545 in 2002
Components A-Teams programs are required to (a) offer professional arts, academics, and athletics instruction and mentoring to youth, (b) provide youth with a context to develop mastery through guided trial and error practice, (c) sponsor exhibitions, performances, or competitions to showcase youth's accomplishments, (d) enable youth to develop caring relationships with adults and peers, and to increase their motivation and sense of possibilities for the future, (e) increase structured program opportunities during nonschool hours for Baltimore youth, and (f) secure continuing program funding. After school programs typically meet two times per week for about 2 hours per session. Summer A-Teams programs are embedded in longer-running programs that meet, on average, for five hours per day.
Funding Level approximately $1.1 million (2002)
Funding Sources Baltimore Community Foundation (BCF)


Overview The first year of the evaluation (beginning in the summer of 2000) was exploratory, with the goal of strengthening BCF’s planning and management of programs using formative and outcomes evaluation. Beginning in the fall of 2001, BCF and Policy Study Associates (PSA) created a 2-year database and began gathering data systematically, enabling PSA to provide technical assistance in how programs can gather and use evaluation data to improve their programs. The most recent report (Pechman & Suh, 2003) documents the highlights and key findings from the first 2 years of the evaluation.
Evaluators Ellen Pechman, H. Jenny Suh, Kevin P. Kirkwood, Jeanine L. Hildreth, Dwayne L. Smith, and Jennifer C. Johnson, Policy Studies Associates, Inc.
Evaluations Profiled A-Teams: Arts, Academics, and Athletic Opportunities Beyond the School Hours—Two-Year Highlights for 2001–2002
Evaluations Planned N/A
Report Availability Pechman, E. M., & Suh, H. J. (2001). A-Teams: Arts, academics, and athletic opportunities beyond the school hours—Interim evaluation report. Washington, DC: Policy Studies Associates.

Pechman, E. M., & Suh, H. J. (2002). A-Teams: Arts, academics, and athletic opportunities beyond the school hours—2001 evaluation report. Washington, DC: Policy Studies Associates.

Pechman, E. M., & Suh, H. J. (2003). A-Teams: Arts, academics, and athletic opportunities beyond the school hours—Two-year highlights for 2001–2002. Washington, DC: Policy Studies Associates.


Evaluation Ellen M. Pechman, Ph.D.
Policy Studies Associates
1718 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 400
Washington, DC 20009
Tel: 202-939-5334
Program Danista Hunte
Senior Program Officer
Baltimore Community Foundation
2 East Read Street, 9th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202
Tel: 410-332-4172 ext. 141
Profile Updated August 24, 2004

Evaluation: A-Teams: Arts, Academics, and Athletic Opportunities Beyond the School Hours—Two-year Highlights for 2001–2002

Evaluation Description

Evaluation Purpose To maximize the lessons learned for implementation and youth outcomes from program participants and leaders.
Evaluation Design Quasi-Experimental and Non-Experimental: Two years of data were collected from all 23 A-Teams programs in 2002 (12 arts, 4 academics, and 7 athletics). Twenty-three of 27 programs funded in 2001 also provided evaluation data, and in some cases these were different programs from those responding in 2002. Not all programs were funded for the full 2 years; therefore the results make observations on the entire A-Teams initiative across both years, comparing overall outcomes from 2001 to 2002 rather comparing individual programs. In addition, A-Teams youth were compared to a national sample of youth who responded to a survey on developmental assets conducted by the Search Institute.
Data Collection Methods Document Review: Grantees’ applications were reviewed each year in 2001 and 2002 to learn about individual programs. Directors’ annual interim and final reports, in which they recorded their self-assessments of and reflections on programs’ accomplishments, were also analyzed. In these reports, directors also provided information on 193 professional staff for 2002.

Interviews/Focus Groups: Focus groups were conducted with staff to learn about program implementation.

Observation: Site visits were conducted to observe programs and learn about implementation.

Secondary Source/Data Review: Service delivery logs, reported by directors quarterly in 2001 and once during each program cycle (three per year) in 2002, were analyzed to look at which services were being delivered to youth. Survey data and results were also obtained from the Search Institute’s survey on developmental assets (n = 100,000).

Surveys/Questionnaires: Youth were surveyed during each program cycle about their overall appraisal of the program and the skills they learned in A-Teams. In 2002, survey data were collected from 1,319 youth. In 2001, survey data were collected from 1,161 youth. Program staff/leaders were also surveyed during each program session to assess their perceptions of youths’ skill learning in A-Teams programs. In 2002, 23 programs completed staff/leader surveys that assessed 1,494 youth. In 2001, 23 programs completed staff/leader surveys that assessed 1,315 youth.
Data Collection Timeframe Data were collected from January 2001 through December 2002.

Formative/Process Findings

Activity Implementation Arts program directors reported focusing on developing youth’s performance and visual arts proficiency using musical instruments, vocal techniques, handling clay, sculpting, encouraging stage presence, and learning elements of artistic design.

Academic program directors reported concentrating on developing youth’s written and oral communication, debate theory and structure, critical thinking, and conflict resolution.

Athletics program directors reported focusing on developing youth’s athletic skills, including footwork, ball handling, coordination, and endurance.

Of the 12 arts programs in 2002, 6 provided music programming, four provided journalism/writing, three each provided visual arts, performance arts, or media arts, two each provided computer technology or educational enrichment, and one program offered homework help.

Of the four academics programs in 2002, three provided homework help, two each provided community action or educational enrichment, and one each provided public speaking activities, journalism/writing, computer technology, or visual arts.

Of the six athletics programs with complete data in 2002, two programs supplemented their athletics activities with homework assistance.

Some youth expressed a desire for more teachers, activities, and variation.
Costs/Revenues The average program cost to BCF per participating youth was $573 in 2002, down from $828 in 2001, primarily because A-Teams reached more youth in 2002 with fewer programs.

Among the three program types, arts programs cost the most in both years ($752 per youth in 2002, down from $1,083 per youth in 2001), given that they required substantial specialized materials and that the adult to youth staffing ratios were smaller.

Academics programs cost $547 per youth in 2002, up from $519 per youth in 2001.

Athletics programs cost $281 per youth in 2002, up from $260 per youth in 2001.

A-Teams sites supplemented available resources by forming partnerships with community and faith-based organizations, schools, and businesses. These organizations provided extra staff support (e.g., tutors and assistant leaders), supplies, space, staff training, etc.

Four programs reported receiving additional funding support from community organizations (often their host organization that supplemented program resources) and community foundations.
Recruitment/Participation A-Teams programs attracted more youth overall, and more target middle-school-aged youth in 2002 than in 2001. Despite having fewer numbers of programs in 2002, overall enrollment increased from 1,604 youth to 2,545 youth. Furthermore, a larger percentage of participants (82% vs. 75%) were aged 12–14 in 2002 than in 2001.

Athletics programs served the most youth per program site (an average of 195.3) in 2002, followed by academics programs (133.5) and arts programs (53.7).

Approximately three-quarters (74%) of A-Teams participants in 2002 reported that they were committed to signing up for programs again, with nearly all of the remaining quarter reporting that they might sign up again depending on their own and programs’ availability. This percentage represented an increase from 71% in 2001. Only 4–5% of participants said they did not plan to sign up again.

Youth-reported reasons for wanting to sign up again included learning a lot of new things, participating in activities that would prepare them well for future activities, and having opportunities to express oneself, meet and interact with people, and experience things to think and talk about.
Satisfaction Youth were generally very positive about their A-Teams programs. Fewer youth spontaneously offered criticisms with each progressive year, and youth criticisms were virtually always constructive.
Staffing/Training In 2002, 71% of staff had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 59% in 2001.

In 2002, 59% of staff were professionals with approximately 14 years of experience, compared with 49% with 13 years of experience in 2001.

In 2002, 45% of staff were certified in their field, including 23% who had teaching certificates, compared with 41% of 2001 staff, including 21% who were certified in teaching.

Arts programs had the smallest professional to youth ratio (1:10), followed by academics programs (1:14) and athletics programs (1:17).

Directors reported encouraging staff to concentrate on teaching life skills, such as following directions, making and implementing plans, instilling self-discipline, maintaining self-control, and working as a team.

The majority of youth “agreed a lot” that their A-Teams program had adults who treated them with respect (81%), helped them (78%), knew a lot about the subject they were studying (75%), and took an interest in them (70%).

Summative/Outcome Findings

Academic Fifty percent of youth reported seeing a connection between their participation in A-Teams and their improvement in school. Another 37% said “maybe” they saw such a connection, while 13% said they saw no such connection.
Youth Development The majority of respondents “agreed a lot” that their A-Teams program helped teach them how to work as part of a team (77%), be good at the program activities (74%), do these activities on their own (62%), set new goals for themselves (62%), think about how their actions affect others (56%), and work better with adults (55%).

Higher percentages of A-Teams youth than the national Search Institute sample of youth reported “agreeing a lot” that it is really important for them to do well in school (86% vs. 63%); when things don’t go well, they can find a way to make them better (58% vs. 45%); when they make plans, they can make them work (57% vs. 29%); they are a person of worth (68% vs. 47%); adults treat them with respect (81% vs. 20%); and they think about their effect on others (56% vs. 43%).

Across the three types of programs, almost 60% or more of youth said that they learned “a lot” about being a leader, being an effective team member, finishing what they started, respecting others, staying focused to finish projects, and using equipment or materials properly.

Overall, less than 50% of participants reported learning a lot about using one’s intuition and planning ahead.

Arts program participants particularly reported learning a lot about finishing what they started, staying focused, and using equipment and materials properly.

Academic program participants particularly reported learning a lot about being a leader, planning ahead, using intuition to solve problems, and using others’ suggestions to help improve.

Athletics program participants particularly reported learning a lot about being an effective group or team member and respecting others.

A-Teams staff reported that slightly more youth accomplished the program goals in 2002 than in 2001, but staff in both years agreed that approximately three-quarters of youth or more accomplished the following: demonstrated identifiable, new skills in an A-Teams topic area; actively participated in classes and program sessions; behaved cooperatively with other youth; communicated effectively with adults; worked with focus on activities; communicated with peers effectively; expressed disagreement constructively; and looked at their work with a critical eye.


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Published by Harvard Family Research Project