The four-year old nonprofit Gearing Up has made an effort to track its community impact through comprehensive annual reports. Its latest report, looking at 2013, was released last week, and the data shows increases in participation and effectiveness.
“Data is really important to Gearing Up so that we can quantify our work and learn from the outputs that the data is providing,” said Amy Spellman, development and special events coordinator at Gearing Up.
Gearing Up is a women’s outreach organization that uses bicycling as a way to improve participants’ overall quality of life. It does this by partnering with community organizations focused on various social services, from drug rehabilitation to re-entry, to organize weekly bike rides. Participants in these rides receive gifts for a certain number of miles traveled. Eventually they have the chance to earn a bike for their efforts.
Partners include the Interim House, CHANCES, The Joseph J. Peters Institute/Project Dawn Court and Gaudenzia Washington House. These partners were chosen strategically to gain access to women in need.
The organization’s only additional program provides a similar service to inmates with an emphasis on reducing weight gain and improving health. The program is available in the County Women’s Prison and Riverside Correctional Facility.
The Gearing Up 2013 Community Report shows increased participation and impact in both of these programs. The organization increased overall enrollment by 11 percent, graduates of the Earn-A-Bike program increased by 218 percent, and the number of graduates returning to Gearing Up for future involvement increased by 200 percent.
Five percent of program graduates were re-incarcerated and 10 percent relapsed into drug addition. For comparison, the national relapse rate for drug abusers is 80 percent, according to research by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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“This is the first year that Gearing Up, in partnership with some wonderful folks at Temple, had the capacity to not only collect data from the prison and Partner Programs, but also analyze that data to inform our programming moving forward,” Spellman said.
The report attributes these improvements to the organization’s decision to focus on improving its existing programs rather creating new programs. In an introduction to the report, Gearing Up Founder Kristen Gavin explained how this strategic decision was made:
“In 2013, after four years of delivering our programs, we were faced with decisions about organizational development. Should we work towards building more programs, or do more with the program model that we had already established? From board to staff, everyone agreed; it was a clear path, and in 2013 we focused our efforts on depth over breadth.”
An overview of the report is available here.-30-
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