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Centering Youth Voice to Build a Program in Kern County

Supported by funding from College Futures Foundation, in the summer of 2020, Kern Community Foundation (KCF) and the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities (Gardner Center) partnered to support six KCF scholarship recipients in a 10-week Action Research Fellowship. The Fellows developed a set of research questions that addressed KCF’s interests in understanding student experience related to their scholarship program, as well as their own interests related to student experience in their community. The Fellows developed an interview protocol and conducted 36 interviews with other KCF scholarship recipients. Based on these interviews, the Fellows undertook a process to synthesize the main points and develop findings and recommendations. The process culminated in a written memo  and presentations to KCF board and staff, regional education leaders, and other community foundations across the state. 

These recommendations led KCF to modify its scholarship recruitment and application processes, and to develop additional programming to enhance college readiness and completion for its need-based scholarship recipients, in an effort to support and expand equitable college attainment in the region. To ensure that this programming would be designed based on best practices and allow for meaningful learning and improvement over the course of implementation, KCF engaged National College Attainment Network (NCAN) and the Gardner Center to work with them to co-develop a theory of change that would guide the new program’s design, implementation, and evaluation.

Learn more about the John W. Gardner Action Research Fellowship via the links below.