Advisor: Sneha Narayan
Youth services, especially services for at-risk youth like The Key in Northfield, are a valuable resource to the Northfield community. Not only do they provide places and activities for kids to stay active and engaged, but they are also safe spaces where highly trained staff can form enriching relationships with kids who might not have many adult role models in their lives.
The Key relies on accurate participation tracking to ensure that the work they do adds significant value to the kids and the community. Participation tracking allows The Key to measure who is engaging with their services, when they are engaging with these services, how often they are engaging with these services, and which services they use. This allows them to determine what types of volunteers/staff are needed at various times, so that they can advocate for and recruit for these positions. It also allows them to form a more holistic picture of individual kids: which staff have they interacted with, how many times have they attended, etc. Ideally, this information allows The Key to figure out what other services (housing, mental health) would benefit an individual. In addition, The Key relies heavily on donors, so demonstrating the benefit of The Key’s services is important for continued engagement from donors.
Last year, a comps group made significant progress on this project. They completely redesigned and overhauled the existing participation tracking system, made it more mobile-friendly, improved the documentation, and instituted more granular access controls for different user roles. However, there remain several areas where the scope of this tool could be expanded. In particular, The Key hopes to use their system to visualize patterns of attendance in their space to better anticipate when to schedule volunteers, and generate reports that allow them to better present the work they do to donors and on grant applications.
In this iteration of the project, you will be working with the Key to expand the system developed by comps students over the last couple of years. This year, you will be focusing on two specific aspects of the participation tracking system:
Addressing these goals will likely involve the following steps:
This is an academic civic engagement (ACE) Comps project. This means that The Key is our client for this project. In addition to all of the other benefits of participating in CS Comps, you will also learn to (1) interact with a real-world client in a professional manner, (2) produce a product that will be used by real people in the real world, and (3) improve the lives of at-risk youth in Northfield.
Primary: A modified participation tracking system that expands the current scope of the tool and better meets the Key’s data reporting needs.
Secondary: A presentation and release of your modified system to The Key and its stakeholders, along with any associated documentation/training.
Background from CS 257 (Software Design) or equivalent experience will be relevant to this project. This project is well suited for students who want to utilize their computer science skills to benefit the Northfield community and who are interested in working closely with clients. CS 344 (Human-Computer Interaction) or CS 314 (Data Visualization) would be nice, but neither are required. Similarly, experience working on other ACE projects or with community groups is recommended, but not required.
This is the next iteration of a comps project that was started two years ago (advised by Amy Csizmar Dalal) and extensively quotes her description of the project from last year.