This collaborative project between the Workforce Investment Board of Marin and Dominican University of California emerged through the DUC Service-Learning Director’s involvement in a subcommittee of the Workforce Investment Board of Marin. The subcommittee’s mission is to identify needs of jobseekers, employers, and the future workforce. Youth voice and perception are vital to understanding how to create, maintain, and evolve towards greater sustainability and a thriving workforce with equitable opportunities for everyone. We purposely targeted youth of diverse ethnicities who participate in county and non-profit programs aimed, in a variety of ways, at their empowerment.
The purpose of the youth focus groups was to acquire qualitative data based on youth perceptions regarding their educational experience, the opportunities available to them in higher education, and their knowledge of what services are currently available to them in Marin County to support their educational success. This project received funding through a grant from the DUC Provost’s Office and the project proposal, RBPHS Application #5069, was submitted to and approved by the Dominican University Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects. Funding allowed us to offer hospitality to focus groups, $10 gift certificates to participants, and to hire the Research and Evaluation Team from Youth Leadership Institute to train our team in focus group methodology–– including question formulation, group facilitation techniques, and documenting, organizing, and analyzing data. The investigators came from outside the field of K-12 education and the findings are based directly on the youth responses and our observations during the groups.
Report contents are divided into sections that attempt to make clear how findings were derived and what they might mean for better understanding the educational challenges and needs of youth in Marin County and the ways in which existing programs might come together and new initiatives may be implemented in response. Sections for this report occur in the following manner:
- An overview summarizes key findings and conclusions in an effort to highlight next steps for addressing educational success for Marin County youth based on the perceptions of participants.
- Data collection procedures are presented to make clear how information was gathered to assess youth perceptions, which includes the questions posed to them by facilitators to do so.
- Procedures for analyzing data are presented to explain derivation of findings.
- Focus group participants are described to understand the sample of youth responses subjected to analyses and how findings might be generalized to other populations.
- Findings are presented and interpreted to make clear youth perceptions as reported by participants about a variety of topics related to educational equity in their community.
- Conclusions are drawn from a summary of findings that provide the framework for discussion in the overview.
- Appendices: Data tables: Appendix A, Profile for Youth Participants; Appendix B, Analyzed Response Breakdown by group for Questions 3,4,5, Appendix