Empowerment through Data: The Lift CDC and DinoMights

The Activator Cycle is an annual process that helps programs assess, plan and improve their work with young people. We wanted to know what that experience was like for programs new to the process, so we reached out to the Lift CDC and DinoMights who just completed their first year! Although both of these organizations have a long history of youth work within the Twin Cities, this was their first year working with Sprockets. 

As an organization dedicated to the development of job and life skills in youth beginning in elementary school all the way through highschool, the Lift CDC provides a variety of supports. Team building, emotional intelligence, financial literacy, software development and even the opportunity to work at the local community movie theater. Being a part of the cycle has encouraged The Lift towards a more organized and meaningful approach to gathering and using data for all their various program components. As staff member Connor Unger pointed out, the Activator Cycle has “Overall opened up more conversation and collaboration with youth, where it isn’t simply staff sucking data out of them, but a co-creation of program with them.”  Using tools such as the YPQA and M3 huddle, the Lift has used their data to build in more opportunities for youth to share their voice and work. For Ginny Ruzicka, program coordinator at the Lift, access to data collection tools has facilitated more organization in their reporting. “I’m looking forward to more fluidly using Cityspan for our data reports. It will help us become more organized internally but also make it easier to include these reports in other grants and reports” Ginny shared. 


Similarly, the Activator Cycle has not only impacted how DinoMights uses data to inform improvement, but also what data they are collecting and how. DinoMights also serves participants beginning in elementary through high school and beyond. They bridge together academic support, mentorship/relationships, job and volunteer experience, and of course, hockey. So many aspects and so much data! Karen Draayer, Communications and Development for DinoMights, expressed how the Activator Cycle has helped them distinguish their program experience data and outcome data, while also challenging them to improve how they collect attendance. Program Assistant Sammy Ingersoll added, “It’s [activator cycle] helped establish an understanding of what program quality actually is. And it’s helped build this shared language between staff through a process where we engage and talk about it all.” In the next year, DinoMights is looking forward to continue refining their data collection efforts, and also addressing internal structures to provide their frontline staff with more time for intentional program planning. One key change they’ve already implemented this year has been creating more reflection and check-in opportunities for their youth. 

When asked what advice they would provide to organizations interested in participating in the Activator Cycle, Ginny from the Lift said “It’s overwhelming but give it time! There is no hurry and you don’t have to do everything at one time.” For Sammy at DinoMights, she stated “Just do it! Sometimes its hard to step back from your work, but Sprockets has been great in guiding us and not trying to make everyone fit in one box. Overall I’ve just felt empowered to refine the great work we’re already doing.” 

Congrats to both of these organizations for their hard work and commitment to their young people!