Early data indicates Goodman’s racial equity efforts are producing real results for youth of color who attended programming
The study The Goodman Community Center has partnered with University of Wisconsin’s Center for Humanities on a yearlong study aimed at discovering the long-term impact the community center has had on former participants.
Staff members have surveyed and interviewed former participants to understand the ways in which our programs have improved education outcomes, food security, employability and strengthened ties to neighborhoods and community networks. Based on preliminary data, more than 70 percent of respondents reported that attending community center programs strengthened their sense of community and prompted them to become more interested in engaging in community efforts.
Implementing this study highlights Goodman’s current best practice: to verify our past work in order to create even more effective programs moving forward. We will use our results to continue to develop and offer programs that are responsive to the needs and feedback of our participants and stakeholders. Center history
Goodman started as the Atwood Community Center at 2425 Atwood Avenue and has served the community as a full-service center since 1943. It was affiliated with the newly formed United Neighborhood Centers until 1999 when it became an independent nonprofit.
In 2008, we moved into a new building at 149 Waubesa Street and took a new name ― the Goodman Community Center. While we continue to love our sense of place on the near east side, our programs and services now reach throughout Dane County.
Goodman currently houses a preschool, 4-year-old kindergarten, afterschool programs for all ages (including countywide Girls Inc.), an alternative high school, an older adult program, food pantry, fitness center. We also rent our rooms out to individuals, private corporations and community groups on a daily basis.
Since opening our new building in 2008, Goodman has served around 25,000 people each year through our programs, services and facility rentals. We estimate that we have touched more than 200,000 lives since our founding in 1954.
Addressing racial equity
The Goodman Community Center has long served a proportionally higher percentage of youth of color than the proportions in Dane County. In 2010, African-Americans youth (under 18) numbered 8.5 percent of the county’s child population.
According to data from the Race to Equity Report, three-quarters of the county’s African-American children live in poverty, compared to 5 percent of white children. Additionally, half of all black high school students don’t graduate on time, compared to 16 percent of white children.
Since 2008, more than 50 percent of the students who attend Goodman’s youth programs (preschool through high school) identify as black or African American. Goodman purposefully welcomes low-income families and families of color to our youth programs and targets some of the key areas in which African-American youth feel most left out, including targeting youth voice, empowerment, a sense of community and optimism, as well as addressing early childhood education disparities and post-secondary college and work preparedness.
As a result of our programming, African-American students who participated in center programming have higher reading rates, higher graduation rates, higher employment rates and leave with a stronger sense of community and optimism than similarly-performing peers who did not attend the center.
By holding an alumni event and conducting our survey, we hope to gain a greater understanding of the long-term outcomes our program has had on all ages and ethnicities — but with a particular interest in determining the effectiveness of our racial equity efforts.
The culmination of our study is our first ever alumni reunion, to be held on May 1 from 2-5 p.m. in the Goodman Community Center’s gymnasium. This event distinguishes itself as not only a reunion, but an opportunity to share results of our alumni impact study. Alumni will have the opportunity to share their memories of the center over a picnic buffet and light refreshments.