Phelps A-Z: Model 9

Early Intervention

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For any community non-profit with similar goals and programming, the importance of early intervention cannot be understated.

The earlier important life skills are introduced to youth, the greater the chances of those lessons having a significant impact will be. It should go without saying that deciding specific areas of development to focus on is integral to the process of effective early intervention. Focusing your efforts on areas with the greatest return is paramount to success.

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Why early intervention is crucial to Phelps Helps

Phelps Helps’ core vision is to empower its community through educational and career support. The organization executes this intention primarily by working with local youth to develop skills for autonomous life.

 

For any community non-profit with similar goals and programming, the importance of early intervention cannot be understated. The earlier important life skills are introduced to youth, the greater the chances of those lessons having a significant impact will be. Furthermore, it’s more challenging to change behaviours and attitudes amongst older individuals with solidified habits and values.

 

It should go without saying that deciding specific areas of development to focus on is integral to the process of effective early intervention. Especially when dealing with limited resources to deliver services—as is often the case with non-profit organizations—focusing your efforts on areas with the greatest return is paramount to success.

Phelps Helps’ early intervention strategy

To help community youth develop important life skills for a productive future, Phelps Helps centers its own early intervention tactics around three specific areas: autonomy, education and career skills. The organization therefore designs much of its programming to include activities that discuss or constitute these areas in some way.

 

Autonomy, education and career skills were chosen as thematic references for early intervention through consultation with stakeholders—local business owners, employers, educators and parents, among others. To improve the economic environment in the geographic region Phelps Helps serves per its mission and vision, stakeholders confirmed that essential skills and strong work ethic were primary areas of concern.

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Why essential skills are so important

According to the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills Canada, there are nine essential skills people need for learning, work and life. With Phelps Helps’ own addition of ‘work ethic’ to this list in alignment with stakeholder feedback, these skills include:

  • Writing

  • Oral communication

  • Working with others

  • Reading

  • Continuous learning

  • Computer use
  • Thinking

  • Numeracy

  • Document use

  • Work ethic

Although these skills can be worked on by anyone at any age, they form the foundation of Phelps Helps’ early intervention strategy due to their intersection with developing productive habits in youth.

 

In Phelps Helps’ conversations with stakeholders, there was significant overlap between essential skills identified by government and those identified by local business owners members as crucial for becoming a contributing member of the community. Based on their own experiences, local employers and youth alike disclosed that development of work ethic and general life skills would have a positive impact. However, stakeholders also pointed out a general disconnect between employers and job seekers.

 

Reducing this disconnect is a major goal of Phelps Helps’ early intervention strategy. After first consulting with relevant stakeholders followed by aligning priorities for skills development with those stated by government officials, the organization has taken steps to equip youth with tools and schemas for both professional and personal life.

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Building essential skills into early intervention programming

Phelps Helps builds essential skills and work ethic development into its youth programming, thereby tying early intervention initiatives to the core of the organization’s operations. One example of how this is done is through completing activities designed to highlight and engage different essential skills.

 

More specifically, Phelps Helps uses an activity called the Negotiation Puzzle to help develop oral communication, thinking and problem solving skills. During this activity, small groups are given a puzzle to complete, only some of their pieces are distributed amongst the other groups. Each group must then find and negotiate a way to obtain their missing puzzle pieces. Learning outcomes for this activity include identifying the emergence of a leader and conflict resolution. Determining specific learning outcomes for each activity is important for ensuring the goal or objective of each individual exercise is completed.

Learn additional strategies for running a successful community non-profit

Phelps Helps is passionate about sharing best practices gleaned from its 10+ years of experience serving its extended community. In addition to covering the importance of early intervention, our Phelps A to Z Monograph contains helpful models and advice for developing engaging, effective programming that makes an impact on the community. Download it for free: