By Mike Jewell
We are very happy to report that all of the large systems required to run a successful program fell nicely into place during this, our tenth year of programming. Our several-stage interviewing and registration process brought us seven weeks of students who were, with only one or two exceptions, extremely well-fitted to our program. Thus, nearly fifty students gained from a curriculum and an experience that is fun, that significantly enriches their lives, and is very extremely well suited to their needs.
In the nonprofit world, efficiency is often measured in terms of the ratio between administration and program costs. However, there are other major sources of inefficiency. For example, a program such as ours requires a curriculum and activities that are very specific to the population of children who we target. Accomplishing this goal has required years careful thought and development.
There is little doubt of our success in this area when consistently hearing comments such as;
“ (Kismet is) awesome, great, wonderful…”
“…best week of my life!”
“The worse thing that happened all week was finding out it was time to go home.”
We also experienced two huge breakthroughs this year. First, we have finally come to understand why our Boston students were struggling far more than students from our other sending schools. At first glance, the answer(s) might seem obvious. However, many personal factors, cultural factors, and interpersonal dynamics form a complex fabric of experience for our students. So now, after four years of research, interviews, and thought we can begin to intelligently explore ways to mitigate the challenges of our truly inner city students.
Second, as mentioned above, the final details of our curriculum fell into place. Professional guides spend decades honing curricula that are appropriate to students of all ages and most backgrounds. Every aspect of every course on every day must fit the strengths, previous experience, and limitations of each student. However, the particular population with which we work in Kismet is unique and requires a very carefully designed curriculum content if we are to be successful in our goals. The great news is that we now have that curriculum.
There are always a multitude of details that still must be addressed and changes must continually be made to every institution and to every program. However, we have a strong program foundation upon which to design the details of Kismet’s future.