Leadership Foundations’ Regional Coaching Model Helps Bridge the Gap between National and Affiliate Mentoring Organizations
Leadership Foundations (LF) is an international nonprofit organization that supports and equips local leaders to work for the spiritual and social renewal of their cities. Founded in 1978, LF has 40 affiliate members or Local Leadership Foundations (LLFs), serving and impacting more than 200,000 individuals globally. Each LLF works to transform their city by engaging leaders of good faith and good will, building the capacity of others, and developing joint initiatives to address their city’s most pressing needs.
While LLFs engage these needs in a variety of ways in cities across the world, a common focus is positive youth development. To that end, LF formed a Mentoring Network of US-based LLF mentoring programs in 2008 to build the capacity of local affiliates and improve youth outcomes. This network provides and supports group, peer, and one-on-one mentoring matches to more than 1500 youth annually through 22 LLFs in 18 states, including: California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia. The network has received four Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) mentoring grants since 2008.
Given the geographic span and diversity of the network, LF developed the Regional Coaching Model as a unique framework for oversight and communications to more effectively support and sustain the network. Implemented in 2015, the model was designed to strengthen the relationships between the national office and affiliates and assist in meeting network goals.
Specifically, the model helps:
- Facilitate ongoing two-way communication between the LF national office and affiliates
- Provide regular oversight and monitoring of individual sites
- Deliver customized training, technical assistance, and resources from the national office
- Track affiliate data and provide a personal and supportive feedback loop to sites
- Build the capacity of affiliates to serve more youth and improve youth outcomes
The core component of the model is the regional coaches themselves. Regional coaches were selected as recognized leaders of successful LLF mentoring programs, with a history of effective program oversight and implementation. These coaches serve as part-time paid contractors employed by the national office. Currently, three regional coaches oversee and support six to eight sites each. Spending on average 20-24 hours per month, regional coaches serve as an accessible “one-stop shop” for their sites. Local mentoring program staff members contact their regional coach to ask questions about network requirements, request technical assistance or training, troubleshoot emerging problems, and/or provide feedback to the coach and the national office.
Regional coaches regularly communicate with sites to reinforce network goals and monitor affiliate’s progress toward objectives. Regional coaches hold check-in calls on a quarterly basis to assess, monitor, and assist affiliates in meeting objectives and provide affirmation when sites meet or exceed goals. For the check-in calls, regional coaches provide summary sheets that highlight current data on key indicators (number of matches, mentors completing training, surveys submitted, training webinars attended by staff, etc.) for both the network and the individual site. Regional coaches review the summary sheet with sites and assist them in developing plans, as needed, to achieve their goals.
Another aspect of the check-in process includes an annual review of each affiliate’s alignment with the Elements of Effective Practice for MentoringTM (EEPM). LF utilizes the Elements Quality Improvement Process for Youth Mentoring (EQUIP), a self-assessment tool developed by LF’s evaluation partner, innovation Research & Training. Sites complete the self-assessment annually to track their progress in meeting targeted EEPM standards and benchmarks. Regional coaches review the report results with the affiliates and assist them in developing improvement plans to meet targeted benchmarks.
In weekly meetings with national office staff, regional coaches serve as key contributors to network management and coordination by providing updates from affiliates, highlighting achievements or activities, identifying and problem-solving site issues or concerns with the rest of the national team, and planning content for monthly training webinars based on their knowledge of site interests and needs.
As a result of implementing the Regional Coaching Model, LF has noted:
- Improved communications between the national office and local affiliates
- Increased compliance with and achievement of network goals
- Improved submission of match and youth outcome data by local affiliates
- Increased alignment with the EEPM with 75% of affiliates reporting increases in their alignment with benchmarks from 2015 to 2018
Connections to Evidence-Based Practice
The regional coaching structure builds on research-based practices from implementation science literature, which supports the importance of implementation teams in successful adoption and sustainability of new programs or practices. Implementation science is the study of how evidence-based programs can be embedded to maximize successful outcomes (Kelly and Perkins, 2012), and is concerned with using a systemic and scientific approach to identify what factors are likely to assist in implementing a new process or practice in an organization or other entity.
In the LF Regional Coaching Model, the national office staff serves as the management team determining network goals and objectives. Regional coaches serve as the implementation team helping communicate with and assist affiliates in understanding and working to do their part in achieving those goals.
As the LF Mentoring Network grows, LF plans to add regional coaches to maintain the affiliate-coach ratio at six to eight sites per coach. The network also plans to continue to develop the coaching structure and provide additional training and support for regional coaches themselves. Further, LF is currently in discussion with the OJJDP National Mentoring Resource Center to assist in providing targeted technical assistance and training to individual affiliates.
As in the Regional Coaching Model, the LF Mentoring Network remains committed to a continual improvement process to evaluate its practices and test new ideas to build the capacity of local affiliates and improve youth outcomes.
Related Resources and References
- Moir, T. (2018, July 25). Why Is Implementation Science Important for Intervention Design and Evaluation Within Educational Settings? Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2018.00061
- Kelly, B., and Perkins, D. F. (2012). Handbook of Implementation Science for Psychology in Education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.