Investing For Quality


Baptist Community Ministries’ Youth Program Quality Initiative (YPQI) supports 84 youth development programs serving more than 7,600 children per week to improve program quality.

The quality of child care centers and public schools in New Orleans has gained significant attention over the past decade. Tens of millions of dollars have been invested in assessment, professional development, training and coaching to improve the instructional quality children receive in these settings. But, before 2015, nothing had been invested systematically to improve the quality of the experiences for children after school and during the critical summer months, despite decades of research showing the importance of quality programming during these critical times.

High-quality out-of-school time programming has been proven to improve young people’s attitudes toward school, behavior, academic performance and likelihood of long-term success – particularly for the low-income children who make up the overwhelming majority of children in Orleans Parish.

BCM launched YPQI in 2015 to establish a system that would raise the bar for quality in out-of-school time programs in New Orleans and produce better developmental outcomes for children and youth for years to come. YPQI is based on the David P. Weikart Center for Program Quality’s youth program quality intervention, which has been adopted by more than 4,000 programs in 41 states. This model draws on the latest research on youth program quality to assist program staff in assessing the quality of their programs, planning for improvement and participating in coaching and professional development  experiences that help them institute measurable quality improvements.

In 2016, BCM completed an initial 10-month pilot of YPQI with 15 youth development programs. In the summer of 2016, BCM helped the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission take lessons learned from the pilot to operate a summer pilot that served all 51 of their summer camps for more than 4,000 children. In the fall, BCM added 17 programs for a second-year pilot during the 2016-2017 school year.

As a result, in the 18 months since BCM launched YPQI

  • 84 programs that serve more than 7,600 children per week have participated
  • 392 youth workers have completed professional development training
  • 39 people have received national certification as a quality assessor or trainer
  • 83 improvement plan goals have been created by teams of program staff, ranging in focus from child safety to supporting youth leadership.

BCM’s initial investment in YPQI has gained the attention of other funders. In year two, BCM has partnered with the Foundation for Louisiana to operate YPQI and has leveraged additional funding from the Campbell Foundation, EMPLOY, Entergy and the United Way of Southeast Louisiana.


“Youth engagement has never been higher.”

“We now have a structured model for continuous improvement, and the staff are onboard. They appreciate the perspective offered and the fact that their voices are crucial in the process.

“The most important thing I developed as a result of the YPQI assessment process was the awareness of youth’s role in a classroom. I would say it was not something I thought much about before and now it is a huge priority and something I am always conscious of in the classroom.”

“By using positive reinforcement over yelling and negative reinforcement, I have noticed a positive change in how [the kids] interact with other students.”

“The kids are now publicly recognized for positive behavior that they demonstrate during the time that we spend with them. Students strive to achieve this recognition, which has led to better behavior overall.”


Each organization that participates in the 10-month YPQI pilot receives the following supports:

  • Two external assessments of the instructional quality of their programming
  • Unlimited staff access to a series of 10 professional development workshops for instructional staff to adopt best practices in quality youth development
  • More than 20 hours of direct training in establishing quality improvement practices as an organization
  • At least 20 hours of coaching for continuous quality improvement over the course of a school year • Assistance in setting quality improvement goals
  • Access to a peer learning community
  • Access to an online database that tracks quality assessment data and progress on quality improvement plans developed by the organization’s staff
  • A $5,000 grant to support quality improvement efforts


YPQI participants represent a wide range of organizations with budgets ranging from $25,000 to $36 million and include:

1881 Research Institute • A’s & Aces • Bard Early College of New Orleans • Big Class • Café Reconcile • College Track • Communities in Schools of Greater New Orleans • Community Works of Louisiana • Cowen Institute Earn and Learn Program • Dancing Grounds • Discovery FEST • Dryades YMCA • FirstLine Schools • Girls on the Run • Grow Dat Youth Farm • International High School of New Orleans • Louisiana Green Corps • Liberty’s Kitchen • Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra • Make Music NOLA • Milne Inspiration Center (The MIC) • New Orleans College Prep • New Orleans Charter Science & Math High School • Operation Spark • PINK House, Inc. • St. Anna’s Episcopal Church • Upturn Arts • VAYLA New Orleans • YAYA, Inc. • Young Audiences Louisiana • Youth Empowerment Project • Youth Run NOLA