by Danielle Lippert
There has been a recent surge of interest in involving youth in tobacco control work, and it’s no wonder why: These youth are experts on their community and know what their peers are looking at, listening to, and what issues are important to them. They are creative, energetic, and great with technology. Young people are heard differently by decision makers and attract more media attention. These are just a few of the many powerful ways in which youth empowerment can enrich tobacco control activities.
With this last funding cycle, California Tobacco Control Program (CTCP) has seen an increase in programs opting to engage in work with youth coalitions. Of approximately 100 local tobacco control programs, 40 either currently maintain or plan to develop and maintain youth coalitions by the year 2021. For these programs that engage in youth coalition work, CTCP outlines the required Social Capital Asset 2.4 to measure participation, collaboration, diversity, and engagement; all performance measures found to be useful to identifying a well-functioning coalition.
Recognizing that youth coalitions function differently than adult coalitions do in many ways, the Tobacco Control Evaluation Center (TCEC) partnered with the California Youth Advocacy Network, or CYAN, to develop some tools specific to youth coalition assessment. Through discussion with CYAN Youth Program Coordinator, Kidan Araya, we identified some specific individual metrics as being particularly impactful in youth coalition assessment beyond general coalition functions. These included changes in tobacco control knowledge and skills, as well as assessing if coalitions were providing opportunity for individual members to explore and expand on tobacco control interests. For this reason, we developed two instruments.
The Youth Coalition Satisfaction Survey is intended to be administered annually to capture coalition member feedback anonymously. The purpose of this survey is to measure coalition function and member satisfaction. We took a look at the existing coalition satisfaction survey and modified the language and content for youth.
The other instrument, the Youth Coalition Intake Survey, is intended to be administered at the beginning and ending of each school year. The purpose of this survey is twofold: one is to determine individual member’s interests in order to allow program staff to provide opportunity to explore these interests, and the second purpose is to assess any change in interests, experience, opportunity, and knowledge in individual members. This required developing an entirely new instrument and TCEC relied on CYAN’s expertise in youth tobacco control topics, activities, and skills to draft this.
These surveys are available both in pen and paper format as well as on an online platform, Survey Analytics. TCEC already received multiple inquiries about youth coalition assessment and know many programs plan to administer these surveys to their coalitions.
Knowing what a powerful impact youth coalitions can make in the field of tobacco control, it’s imperative we are using the right tools to guide the evaluation of these coalitions; doing so can lead to meaningful changes both within local programs and the communities they serve.
To learn more, check out the Community Coalitions page on Partners.