Serving in the Next Decade, The Night Ministry's current strategic plan, calls for growing and sustaining a data-driven culture of learning. Surveying clients across the organization is an important avenue for achieving that goal.
Over the last few years, The Night Ministry began sharing survey results with its clients. Gregory Gross, Director of Mission Fulfillment, said that has led to a more detailed picture of the individuals we serve.
"For example, we had been asking clients at the Health Outreach Bus about housing stability. When we took the results back, we heard in several places that housing was stable but not adequate," he said. "So we made changes to the survey this year so we could ask not just about stability but also ask more questions about adequacy."
The results from surveys of Youth Housing residents are brought to members of Youth 4 Truth, The Night Ministry's leadership and advocacy program for young adults. Gross said the process is similar to focus group research.
"We look at the survey results and ask what would be helpful to know more about," he said. "For instance, on the youth survey we asked about feelings of safety. We then took the results to Youth 4 Truth and asked, 'Can you tell us more about what makes you feel safe? Can you give us examples of when you feel safe and when you don't?'"
Gross said the conversations with Youth 4 Truth members are a forum for young people to identify challenges in The Night Ministry's Youth Programs that they feel should be addressed.
"These discussions are not just happening in a vacuum," he said. "We do share feedback with the program staff, and we can make alterations if needed."
Amber Westbrooks, a Youth 4 Truth member who has participated in the process, said the conversations were empowering.
"I've never done something like this where my voice actually mattered. About two to three weeks after we talked, we started to see changes," she said. "I really believe that The Night Ministry values our opinions."