In 2013, Westat joined with two subcontractors, the University of California, Los Angeles Luskin School of Public Affairs and the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, to evaluate the Foster Youth Strategic Initiative in Los Angeles County (LAC) and New York City (NYC). The Initiative grew out of an extensive research and synthesis process that helped the Foundation better understand challenges facing Transition-Age Youth (TAY), identify key levers and successful models for change, and incorporate the perspectives of a wide variety of stakeholders. The Initiative is built on a theory of change proposing that funding three components (TAY self-sufficiency services, systems change, and new knowledge) will synergize efforts in LAC and NYC around improving outcomes for TAY.
The Hilton Foundation provides grants to organizations and entities with the potential to actualize the Foster Youth Strategic Initiative's components. As of May 2014, grantmaking totaled $23,917,033. Currently 19 grantees are funded to support TAY self-sufficiency through direct services; 11 funded grantees are focusing on systems change; and 6 grantees are generating new knowledge about TAY. From a regional, or site-level perspective, there are 16 grantees focused on changes for TAY in LAC; 9 grantees are focused on TAY in NYC; and 4 grantees (designated as dual geography) are focused on changes in both LAC and NYC.
The primary goal of the evaluation is to inform learning about TAY. In order to investigate a multi-faceted and strategically informed initiative, the evaluation is designed to be broader than a program evaluation. Over 3 years, the evaluation team will assess the value added by Hilton Foundation's investments in improving outcomes for TAY and will ground the data in national and regional contexts.