It All Started With A Passion for Young People and Education
When Chris Coleman became Mayor Coleman in 2006, one of his priorities was improving the lives of young people in Saint Paul through education. That passion for a better tomorrow for today’s youth planted the seed that today has grown to be Sprockets.
Before there was Sprockets, there was the Second Shift Commission
Mayor Coleman quickly became aware of the fact that young people spend 80% of their time – including after school, summer, and weekends — outside of school. He realized that focusing on the opportunities available to youth during this “Second Shift” is critical to closing opportunity gaps and ensuring all young people have opportunities to excel.
Tackling this important issue would take a collaborative effort. Mayor Coleman called the entire city – the school district, community organizations and activists, local non-profit, business and civic leaders, parents and youth, thought and opinion leaders, public servants like police and libraries – to action with the creation of the Second Shift Commission, an offshoot of the Parks & Rec Commission.
The Second Shift Commission was charged with providing feedback and recommendations regarding out-of-school time in Saint Paul. Saint Paul’s Second Shift Commission got a big boost in 2008 when a technical assistance grant from the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education & Families made it possible for the Second Shift Commission to observe and understand best practices taking place in other cities across America.
Second Shifts Sets the Stage for Sprockets
Once members of the Second Shift Commission saw all that was possible to improve the lives of young people in Saint Paul through quality out-of-school-time experiences, the passion and excitement behind this movement continued to build.
First, the Second Shift Commission worked with more than 350 parents, youth, teachers, business leaders and youth workers to develop Saint Paul’s Framework for Youth Success. This framework provides a shared vision of youth success in the 21st century that guides Saint Paul’s out-of-school-time efforts, including Sprockets.
Second, the Second Shift Commission recommended the creation of a searchable website filled with program information so that youth and families can easily find out-of-school-time learning opportunities in Saint Paul. This, of course, is today’s Program Finder right here on the Sprockets web site.
Third, the Second Shift Commission recommended creating a city-wide data system to help improve the quality of information about out-of-school-time in Saint Paul. This information can help inform decisions about expanding or starting new programs, better link in-school and out-of-school learning outcomes, and show the impact of out-of-school-time participation in our community.
Finally, the Second Shift Commission recognized the important role that quality plays in creating out-of-school-time opportunities that help kids succeed. Thus, the Youth Program Quality Assessment tool and professional development opportunities for youth workers became an important part of Sprockets’ mission and work.
Today, Sprockets Is All About Successful Youth and Quality Programs
Our vision to make Saint Paul a national model for community-wide learning continues to take shape. In March 2011, Sprockets as you see it today was launched. In our first year, we invited youth from across the entire city of Saint Paul to “find out what moves them” with our new online Program Finder, engaged 158 youth workers in skill building workshops and trained staff from 19 different organizations to use the Youth Program Quality Assessment tool.
We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished this far, and continue our journey toward helping all youth in Saint Paul reach their fullest potential through quality programs that spark their interests.