Hunter Consulting helps organizations in the social sector to deliver the results they promise.
Our Piece of the Pie
In its 2004 theory of change workshop, Our Piece of the Pie (Hartford, CT), then known as Southend Community Services, realized that its legacy program of elderly services, and also its city-wide day care centers, no longer bore any relation to its evolving mission to help inner-city, low-income young people successfully transition to adulthood. At this crossroad, Bob Rath, the President/CEO with the agency since 1994, decided to take the bull by the horns and, in spite of sentimental attachments by both the board and staff to these programs, identify their peripheral status. The question then became: What to do about this? In the workshop the group (made up of key staff, Board representation, agency leadership, and consultants) decided to limit access to day care to children of teenaged mothers already in its case management program; and similarly, to retain the youth chore elderly services component (where young people perform chores for seniors) as a social enterprise providing wages and work-readiness training for case management program participants – and to monitor how well they met these redefined purposes over the next few years.
Headquartered in Hartford, CT, Our Piece of the Pie’s mission now is “Helping urban youth become successful adults.” Offering a “relationship-centered” approach to help young people access and attain a mix of the educational, employment, and personal skills that contribute to their success, OPP is known as the city’s “go-to” agency for youth services. Its core program is Pathways to Success, a case management program in which Youth Development Specialists (YDS) – “life coaches” – focus on developing success-oriented relationships with young people whose life trajectories are veering off track or are at risk for doing so. Working from an initial assessment of each youth’s strengths and needs, the YDS arranges for each young person to receive those supports he or she needs to succeed. As these young people transition through Pathways, their progress is monitored in terms of rigorously defined outcomes – and adjustments to services are made as indicated. OPP also partnered with the Hartford Public Schools to build and implement Opportunity High School, the first partnership high school in Connecticut with governance shared by the partners. This school specifically works with over-age, under-credited young people who have dropped out of high school or are at risk of doing so. This highly focused configuration of youth programming has attracted notable regional interest, and OPP has been invited to expand into other cities.