Every other year since 2005, Sunday Friends has conducted an evaluation of its programs in cooperation with a local university research team. The 2017 Sunday Friends evaluation was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Carol Ann Gittens, Associate Professor of Child Studies, and her research team from Santa Clara University. Surveys were administered to youth, parents, and program volunteers.
In 2017, Dr. Gittens and her team conducted the Sunday Friends evaluation at two of the Program’s sites, Lowell Elementary and Santee Elementary. The 2017 evaluation included previous years’ survey foci on the perceived benefits on the Sunday Friends program in areas such as personal and family finances, health-related behaviors, effective coping, stress-management, positive discipline, academic and technical skill building, English language development, and parental role modeling. In 2017 the parent survey was also expanded to include measurement of the degree to which parents feel the Sunday Friends program has helped them to be more able to promote the Search Institute Developmental Assets within their children.
Overall, Sunday Friends has created an extraordinary sense of community among its attendees. Adults were nearly all likely to report that they are treated with dignity and respect at Sunday Friends (95%), and 91% reported that they would be sad if they were not able to attend Sunday Friends. Adults nearly unanimously reported that the Sunday Friends volunteers are friendly (99%) and all adults surveyed reported that the Sunday Friends volunteers are good role models for the children and youth. 94% of adults report that the SF take-home projects bring their family closer together. Ninety-six (96%) of adults feel that the SF take-home projects help to reinforce what was learned at the SF program.
Sunday Friends is having a strong positive effect on children and youth’s emotions, their attitudes about themselves and others, and their engagement with their family. An overwhelming majority of the children and youth said that when they are at Sunday Friends, they feel good about helping others and that they feel close to their family. An overwhelming majority of the youth strongly agreed that participating in Sunday Friends made them feel responsible, proud of themselves, happy, respected, appreciated, and safe. An outstanding majority of children say they feel proud when working for something that they want, and they shared that they spend more time with their family even when not at Sunday Friends.
The impact of Sunday Friends on the lives of children and teens is particularly noticeable in terms of the academic perceptions and aspirations espoused by the young participants. A full 100% declared that it is important to do better in school, nearly unanimously they agree that it is important to have goals for the future. An impressive ninety percent of the youth feel that the things they are learning at Sunday Friends are helping with their school success.
The tremendous consistency across the Youth and Adult surveys suggest that the Sunday Friends Program is overwhelmingly successful in meeting its desired outcomes. Sunday Friends’ community-building and financial literacy-oriented, working alternative to charity approach based on education is successful at fostering the developmental assets and achieving its goals to empower families.
Some extremely positive findings are that 96% of parents either agree or strongly agree that Sunday Friends has helped them to reduce their usual level of stress; Ninety-five percent of adults report that they feel they are a better parent as a result of participating in the Sunday Friends program; and 97% of adults report being more able to think about their family’s future needs. These findings are highly consistent with the overarching mission and goals espoused by the Sunday Friends program.
Across all Developmental Asset scales, there was a very high level of agreement that the program promotes the internal or external domain of healthy development and wellbeing for children. This reveals a resounding endorsement of the positive benefits of Sunday Friends.
There is ample evidence in the 2017 program evaluation that Sunday Friends thrives in promoting financial literacy among its participants, nurtures health and wellbeing among parents and youth alike, and contributes significantly to parents’ capacity to care for their children and plan for the future. The Sunday Friends Program demonstrates resounding success in achieving its mission to educate children and their families to foster a commitment to schooling and academic success. It is concluded with confidence that Sunday Friends is actualizing its vision to break the cycle of poverty through education and the development of life skills oriented around program goals and aligned with key developmental assets that will enhance wellbeing among parents and their children.