On Friday, May 1st, 2015, Community Boating Center (CBC), the first designated Reach “Center of Excellence” hosted the first Reach mentoring session in an effort to have other programs learn from their success in partnering, program development, fundraising, and evaluation. Acting as the “Northeast Hub”, CBC invited Executive Directors, Program Directors/Manager and Instructors from New England Science and Sailing of Stonington, Connecticut; The Waterfront Center of Oyster Bay, New York; Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center of Burlington, VT; Community Boating Incorporated of Boston, MA; and the Downtown Sailing Center of Baltimore, MD to attend as part of the Reach Northeast regional network. Programs in attendance were Reach Hub program grantees from top programs in the Northeast Region and one program from another region, thanks to the funding and support of 11th Hour Racing, a Program of the Schmidt Family Foundation.
This would be the first time the programs would gather together with their leadership to share their experiences with other programs and learn not only from the lineup of presenters (partners of Community Boating Center), but from one another. This effort is led by US Sailing to share best practices and develop communities of practice for programs implementing Reach, US Sailing’s STEM and Environmental Education Initiative.
The day began with a warm welcome from Jack Gierhart, Executive Director of US Sailing; Jessica Servis, Reach Initiative Manager, and John O’Flaherty, Executive Director of Community Boating Center. “Systemic change requires much more than a lesson plan – we need skilled and experienced people to provide the guidance necessary to break down complex and critical educational and environmental issues in a personal manner. Be the change you want to be,” said John O’Flaherty. CBC’s role as a Reach Center of Excellence (download slide show)
Each organization in attendance presented on their current Reach Initiative implementation. This was a great way to take those in attendance on a virtual field-trip to each program. Most programs in attendance (as at most sailing programs) are challenged to visit other sailing centers during their programming, so this was unique and valuable opportunity. Representatives from each program presented on community partners, schools they work with, and what a typical program day looks like. Programs attending:
- New England Science and Sailing of Stonington, Connecticut
- The Waterfront Center of Oyster Bay, New York
- Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center of Burlington, VT
- Community Boating Incorporated of Boston, MA
- Downtown Sailing Center of Baltimore, MD
Following the organizational presentations, Jenny Lybeck, Program Manager for 11th Hour Racing, presented on 11thHour Racing’s mission and support of their programs followed by a session on sustainability. Through the session programs shared sustainability practices currently implemented at their organization as well as what they would like to see in the future from their youth and adult sailors, staff members, board members, and program participants. Practices included: eliminating the use of plastic water bottles with dolphin pumps on water jugs, encouraging use of reusable water bottles by everyone, using Zip2 Water systems and bubblers, implementing Sailors for the Sea’s Green Regattas program, packing sustainable lunches with reusable containers, holding beach (marine debris) cleanups, and most importantly teaching youth about the impact of their choices on the environment and our waters.
After lunch, Community Boating Center invited the Providence After School Alliance (PASA), their longtime partner, to present on what a high quality STEM program looks like. Brittany Sandbergen, Coordinator of Professional Development & Training for PASA led a two-hour professional development session.
- STEM PQA Assessment Tool
- YPQA Indicator Summary
Next, Audubon Society of Rhode Island and Save the Bay – Narragansett Bay (both long time CBC partners) collaborated on a one-hour presentation/ field experience for Program Directors and Instructors on board Save the Bay’s research vessel.
While the Program Directors and Instructors engaged in environmental education partnering, the Executive Directors were led by the Rhode Island Foundation in a round table discussion about STEM funding. Lessons learned from the session included; establish relationships with your donors and funders, Family Foundations are generally internally controlled with specific requirements, Community Foundations can have 1,300 donors or more, more than half of donor of funds are donor directed, and most importantly, have a five-year strategic grant plan. On average it takes three years to develop a relationship with funders.
The day ended with a regrouping of all in attendance, in which participants were surveyed on the day’s effectiveness. Over the next few months all organizations in attendance will work to build new community and school partners, implement high quality Reach programming, participate in two STEM PQA evaluations, and draft a new module to share with other Reach programs. The group will meet again on September 25th at Community Boating Center for the second mentoring session.
Mentoring Session #1 Survey Results Summary:
Using a scale of 0 being nonexistent and 10 being and expert or implemented with excellence, those in attendance were asked to respond to nine Likert scale questions and two open-ended questions. Attendees were surveyed in the beginning and again at the end of the mentoring session, to evaluate the effectiveness of the presenters and the session.
Survey results yielded the following:
After a two hour presentation on STEM Program Quality Assessment presented by Brittany Sandbergen, Coordinator of Professional Development and Training at the Providence after School Alliance (PASA), attendees showed a significant increase in knowledge of program quality assessment in STEM and inquiry-based instruction. Survey results showed that attendees felt their personal practice of inquiry based instruction was lower after the professional development session.
Survey results showed an increase of STEM funding knowledge after the round-table discussion for Executive Directors led by the Rhode Island Foundation.
On average, attendees rated their organizations sustainability efforts at 6.5/10. After the sustainability session, on average, attendees felt their organizations were not doing as much as the originally thought, (8% decrease) Results showed an average rating of 7.08 in their individual sustainability practices before the sustainability session, and 6.58 after the session leading to a slight decrease in how attendees felt about their sustainability practices.
Attendees reported they felt their student’s environmental literacy and behavior upon entering their programming was about 5/10 and when they departed programming at their organization it was about a 7/10. This data suggests programs feel they are providing environmental education to their students which is leading to a change in behavior and an increase in knowledge for their students.
Attendees reported they liked the format, collaboration, and information sharing from program to program the most about the mentoring session, followed by the STEM PQA presentation. Results unanimously showed attendees felt the STEM PQA presentation was the most valuable followed by stories about successful practices and ideas for partnerships.
Attendees reported they would like to see the following from US Sailing in reference to the Reach Initiative:
- Funding sources
- High school modules
- Elementary modules
- Student workbook
- Video support
- Pathways to effective partnership building
- Support for becoming more sustainable
- Lesson plans
- Networking opportunities
- National support
- Water conservation suggestions
- Food advocacy practices
- Education & training
- Online database
Attendees reported the following when asked, “What makes you want to be part of the Reach Initiative?”
- Part of a huge movement to increase enrichment
- It makes sailing real and relevant
- Best Thing Ever!
- The Mission
- Positive outcomes I have witnessed with children
- Opportunity to help and share with others and learn from others
- Curriculum stands on its own; it is engaging, educational, and an amazing addition to programming
- It is a valuable, natural next step, and a huge opportunity to change the landscape/demographic of sailing and make a positive impact on educational framework