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YES! Alumni Evaluation

2008-2009 YES! Alumni Evaluation Report

YES! administered the second bi-annual Alumni Evaluation in the Fall of 2008, gathering feedback from the last ten years of YES! Jam alumni. The purpose of the evaluation is to gather important feedback from Alumni about their experience participating in the Jam and how they’ve been supported in their life and work by YES! and other Jammers afterwards. YES! is committed to continuing to learn and grow from each Jam we convene, in order to make sure our work is meaningful and creating a positive difference in the lives of Jammers and the communities they work in.

Survey Methods and Design:

The Alumni Evaluation consists of 24 Likert Scale questions that are separated into three topics: (a) What do Jammers think about the Jams? (b) How are Jammers impacted by the Jams? (c) What do Jammers think about the Jam community?. The Leveraging Privilege for Social Change Jammers received 2 additional Likert Scale questions specific to themes discussed during their Jam. In addition, the Jammers answered 26 open-ended questions.

The Alumni Evaluation was also translated into Spanish, as Spanish is the second most common language spoken amongst the Jam community.

The Alumni Evaluation was distributed online to 365 Jammers from over 65 nations and over 10 years of Jams. Sixty-eight Jammers responded to the evaluation, giving a 19% response rate.

Survey Results and Findings:

The Work of Alumni 

How has the work of Alumni impacted their community and the rest of the world?

  • Jammers are making a positive difference in their community and the rest of the world by greening their communities and the world through urban gardens and reforesting, providing job training for youth to install solar panels in Liberia, creating a better life in their indigenous community to encourage their youth to stay as opposed to migrating to the city and leaving their culture, teaching photography to Palestinian children to reignite their inner child, and guiding social change leaders and philanthropy to support under-resourced communities, organizations and issues.
  • For a deeper look at the work of our Alumni, please visit http://www.yesjams.org

How many people do Alumni reach directly and less directly through their work?

  • Directly, each Jammer is reaching between 20 – 150,000 people within a year through their work, and indirectly each Jammer is reaching up to 5 million people per year.  Cumulatively, we estimate that Jammers’ work is reaching X people per year directly, and X people per year indirectly.

What was the focus of their work before attending the Jam? What is their current/future work? How has the Jam experience helped Alumni define their current/future focus of their work?

  • Some Jammers are continuing with the work they were doing before the Jam, but approach their work differently due to the authentic and supportive relationships they built with fellow Jammers and understanding the importance of personal development. 
  • Some Jammers had a vision of what they wanted their focus of their work to be, and the Jam helped and encouraged them to step forward and make their vision into a reality. 
  • Some Jammers completely shifted their focus of work after the Jam, by leaving a ‘job’ they were doing to make ends meet, and followed their true passions by realigning their work and life with their values and principles.

What do Jammers think about the Jams?

  • 100 % of Jammers think Jams are unique spaces for young changemakers to engage with each other
  • 97% of Jammers think Jams foster deep inquiry, healing and well-being
  • 98% of Jammers think Jams seek and create transformation on the inner level
  • 97% of Jammers think Jams seek and create transformation on the interpersonal level
  • 94% of Jammers think Jams seek and create transformation on the community/global level
  • 92% of Jammers felt their whole self was welcomed at the Jam

How are Jammers impacted by the Jams?

  • 97% of Jammers made important and valuable contacts at the Jam
  • 92% of Jammers have sustained friendships and alliances created at the Jam
  • 98% of Jammers learned new skills or perspectives that enhance my life
  • 90% of jammers learned new skills or perspectives that enhance my work
  • 90% of Jammers are more aware of connections between issue and movements in the world, since the Jam
  • 87% of Jammers see more benefit in collaborations between organizations and movements, since the Jam
  • 90% of Jammers are more likely to seek collective intelligence and diversity of perspectives in my decision-making
  • 83% of Jammers take better care of their physical, spiritual and/or emotional health after the Jam
  • 84% of Jammers have created more life balance to help me thrive in my work/activism after the Jam
  • 85% of Jammers have developed more honest and/or meaningful relationships after the Jam
  • 87% of Jammers have greater capacity to resolve conflicts constructively after the Jam
  • 88% of Jammers feel their work/activism is more intentional and effective after the Jam
  • 90% of Jammers feel their work/activism is more congruent with their values after the Jam
  • 83% of Jammers have been more effective fundraisers, administrators and/or spokespersons for their work, since the Jam

What do Jammers think about the Jam Community?

  • 87% of Jammers perceive the Alumni Community to be a strong network of people and support
  • 89% of Jammers perceive the Alumni Community to be a wealth of information and resources
  • 75% of Jammers feel YES! has been there to support them or their work in ways that have mattered, since the Jam
  • 85% of Jammers feel other members of the Alumni Community have been there to support them or their work in ways that have mattered, since the Jam

Their Jam Experience

What is the most practical thing Alumni pulled out from the Jam for their work/activism?

  • Building authentic relationships and a supportive community with like-minded individuals. 
  • Facilitation skills.
  • The use of Jam activities as a tool for holding a safe space.
  • The importance of caring for oneself, as opposed to unsustainably putting 100% of their energy into serving their community.
  • The value of diversity.

What stood out at the Jam as a unique experience?

  • The time dedicated to doing Be Present, Inc work and how it was carried out throughout the Jam.
  • Realizing the issues and/or suffering Jammers experience in their communities are the same, even though they may initially seem different.
  • Intensely connecting with a specific Jammer, developing a strong relationship that supports each other’s life and work after the Jam.
  • For the World Jams, visiting and working with the neighboring communities created an opportunity of learning from a different community and comparing it to their own community – seeing the differences and similarities.
  • Dialogue around race, and oppression that are present in their communities.
  • Witnessing the deep personal sharings and experiences of fellow Jammers, thus creating a collective healing.
  • Realizing the work they are doing in their community is also happening across the world, and they are apart of a larger movement.
  • The love and safe space present during the Jam in balance with a creative fun culture – created a feeling of ‘coming home’ on a spiritual level.

What would have made the Jam better, more compelling or interesting?

  • Extending the Jam to create more time to Jam together – more time to connect with one another, self-reflection, connect with neighboring communities, etc.
  • Opportunities to connect with Jammers after the Jam, such as an Alumni Reunion.
  • A structured network and consistent follow-ups after the Jam.
  • Continue the ‘Needs/Offers’ activity after the Jam.
  • Possibly a theme for the World Jam, such as a red thread or road map for the week.
  • Additional ‘free time’ during the Jam to connect with fellow Jammers and self-reflection.

World Jam Alumni

How has connecting with other Jammers from around the world influenced their understanding of local and global issues?

  • Developing authentic relationships with Jammers from around the world has made global issues feel more real and personal. When they hear about an issue or conflict happening in a specific region of the world, they now know someone who is actually being impacted, bringing it closer to home. 
  • Realizing the struggles they are facing in their communities, are similar to the struggles across the world. 
  • Recognizing that there isn’t a ‘third world’ or ‘oppressed’ country, but rather each country carries their own wounds and wisdom. 
  • Realizing the role they play in their community is a part of a larger movement and that they are all connected. They are not alone in fighting for a better world, so they see the importance of supporting each other in the work they do in their communities.

How has a global network of peers supported them in their life and work?

  • Being able to tap into the wisdom of Jammers from around the world has been valuable when making decisions around their work and life.
  • Knowing that there is a large community of like-minded Jammers gives Jammers a sense of unity and support they need to continue with their work.
  • Developing relationships with Jammers from around the world gives a real and personal perspective to the issues happening across the globe.
  • When traveling for work or pleasure, there is always a ‘home’ to go to anywhere around the world.
  • Some Jammers haven’t reached out to World Jammers for support, as the physical distance is too much for them.

Leveraging Privilege for Social Change Jam Alumni

  • 93% of LPSC Jammers are giving more money or time to causes they believe in, since the Jam.
  • 100% of LPSC Jammers feel the Jam helped them better use their privilege to make a difference.

How has the Jam shifted their thinking and doing around leverage, privilege, and social change?

  • LPSC Jammers feel more confident and comfortable being open about their privileges in order to leverage their privileges to serve their community.
  • LPSC Jammers have expanded the meaning of privilege, by recognizing the various gifts everyone has to offer, outside of just class and race.
  • LPSC Jammers feel it’s a privilege to be apart the of the Alumni Community, as attending the Jam has been a life-changing experience and having access to the wisdom of the Alumni Community within a grasp is valuable to their life and work.
  • LPSC Jammers feel less shameful or guilt around the privileges they hold, and have gained clarity on how to better serve their community.
  • By expanding the definition of privilege, LPSC Jammers are able to see the numerous gifts individuals have to offer, as opposed to perceiving them as ‘less fortunate’.
  • LPSC Jammers recognize that social change needs to begin with personal change, in order to truly make a difference in the world.

Life After the Jam

How have Alumni connected to their work or life differently since the Jam?

  • They have deepened their commitment to their work. 
  • They have placed more value in developing authentic relationships with people in their communities. 
  • They have found a better balance between their life and work through the supportive relationships they developed at and since the Jam.
  • They have left their previous employment to follow their true passions.
  • They have made more space for spiritual and personal development in their work and life, recognizing the care for oneself directly impacts the work they do in their communities and living a fruitful life. 
  • They are taking more risks in expanding their work to different communities that they would not have originally thought of before the Jam. 
  • They no longer see a difference between their life and work, as they are working in a field they are passionate about.  
  • They are more aware of the issues around the world. 
  • They developed a stronger sense of self and openness to diversity, which has prevented them from feeling personally oppressive in their community. 

How has developing deep connections with diverse Jam participants, impacted their life and work? Have they collaborated with other Alumni, since the Jam?

  • The various relationships developed during the Jam have lead to collaborative efforts in their work as well as supportive efforts in their life. 
  • Some Jammers have developed deep connections with other Jammers and have collaborated on projects with them, and their communities.
  • Some Jammers have built an entire professional career through the relationships they’ve developed through the Jams.
  • Some Jammers have been in conversation around possible collaborations, but haven’t been able to manifest them into real projects yet – due to limited time, physical distance, limited financial resources, not the right time, etc. Even having these conversations with fellow Jammers has inspired them to led other projects they would have never thought of leading. 
  • Some Jammers have donated financial resources and their wisdom to projects their fellow Jammers are leading. 
  • Some Jammers didn’t develop deep relationships with other Jammers, which has translated to feeling disconnected with the Jam community after the Jam. 
  • Some Jammers have lost contact with deep relationships they built at the Jam, but feel they can always return and receive the support they need. 
  • Being able to connect with fellow Jammers for support after the Jam has been valuable, but the long physical distance can be challenging to connect. New technologies can bring a sense of closeness, such as Skype and Facebook, but these technologies can’t fully replace the support they would receive in-person. 

Alumni Support

How many Alumni stay in contact with fellow Jammers after the Jam? How have these connections supported them in their life and work?

  • Jammers either haven’t stayed in contact with fellow Jammers due to changes in their life and work, have stayed connected to several Jammers, or have stayed in contact with so many Jammers, most of the folks they work with are Jammers. They connect every few weeks to every few months.
  • They’ve received personal and professional support from fellow Jammers. 
  • Even if Jammers haven’t stayed in contact with fellow Jammers, they still feel the love and support they received during the Jam, which helps them continue on with their work.
  • Jammers have hosted each other in their homes as they’ve traveled the world.
  • Jammers stay connected over emails, phone and Facebook. They’ve supported each other with personal problems and collaborating through work projects. 
  • Jammers have collaborated, sharing financial and knowledge resources.

How has YES! supported Alumni in their life and work, since the Jam?

  • YES! has connected Jammers with aligned funders to support their work.
  • Jammers feel that YES! is a safe space, where their full self will always feel welcomed and appreciated.
  • Jammers, who have lead Jam-like gatherings in their communities, have received facilitation and program development support.
  • Jammers have mainly been supported by Jammers they met through YES!.
  • Some Jammers have not been supported by YES! individually either because they haven’t asked for support or they are not clear on how they can be supported by YES!.

How can YES! or the Jam Community better support one another and how would they like to be engaged?

  • International Jammers feel they would feel better supported by YES! if they were based in the US.
  • Providing opportunities for Jammer exchanges, where Alumni who are doing similar work travel to a Jammer’s community and learn from one another.
  • YES! could be a source of information that would be appealing to Jammers through emails and the website.
  • Learn about what other Jammers are up to, both personally and professionally.
  • YES! could provide a space where Jammers can offer and ask for support about an issue they are addressing in their community and personal lives.
  • YES! could provide support in translations, as not all Jammers fluently speak English.
  • YES! should continue to build a Facebook community, so Jammers can stay connected in that way.
  • Jammers would appreciate a simple and efficient way to stay connected, as they are living busy lives.
  • Jammers would like the week-long Jams to be extended and to attend in-person reunions after the Jam.
  • Support around how to live and bring the energy experienced at the Jam back to their community
  • Support around how to stay connected with Jammers from around the world, other than just emails.

Alumni Newsletter

What excites and doesn’t excite Alumni about reading the monthly Alumni Newsletter?

  • Most Jammers are excited to receive updates about what Jammers are doing in their communities, as it’s inspiring and motivates them to continue on with their work. 
  • Some Jammers appreciate being up-to-date about upcoming gatherings/events happening around the world through effective organizations and have access to good resources.\
  • Some Jammers do not read the newsletter due to lack of time and/or interest. 
  • The newsletter seems to be primarily based with information in the US
  • Change the newsletter so it is more appealing, with pictures and videos and less text. 
  • The Job Opportunities postings are not exciting, but feel necessary.
  • The newsletter can sometimes feel like ‘another’ email to read, amongst the many.

What would Alumni like to read in the Alumni Newsletter, that isn’t already included?

  • More testimonies and updates from Jammers through text, videos, pictures and other media outlets.
  • A space to collaborate and share new ideas with other Jammers.
  • A space to learn how to fundraise and provide shared fundraising to support the work of Alumni and get Alumni to the events posted in the Newsletter.

How can the Alumni Newsletter be beneficial to staying connected with other Alumni?

  • Categorize the various postings under focus of work.
  • Provide hard copies of the Newsletter for a small fee.
  • Redirect the Newsletter to being more personal, such as post more articles written by Alumni.

Would Alumni be excited about reading updates about other Jammers? What would they like to learn about from a fellow Jammer? Overall, Alumni would be excited to read updates about other Jammers. They would like to learn about: 

  • How Jammers strategized and overcame a difficult situation.
  • Happenings going on in their personal and work life.
  • Appoint Alumni liaison from each Jam to facilitate ongoing article contributions and lead social issue discussions.
  • A space where Jammers can collaborate, by asking and offering support about a project they are currently working on.
  • A calendar of events and gatherings happening around the world
  • A space to pass along updated contact information
  • A map of where Jammers are currently living and what they are doing in their community.
  • A space to share stories about their Jam experience – the most memorable days.
  • A space to share their story about their life and work.
  • A profile page of each Jammer to include pictures, contact information, work information, and personal updates.

YES! Jams Website

How has the Yesjams site benefited them in staying connected or meeting new Jammers?

  • Most Jammers have not used the site, but acknowledge that it could be useful to stay connected and meet new Jammers.
  • Very few Jammers find the site very helpful, where they are connecting with other Jammers to collaborate on projects, supporters are finding them, sending out event announcements, and keeping up-to-date with fellow Jammers.

How has YES! Jams site not met their needs in staying connected with fellow Jammers and meeting new Jammers?

  • Some Jammers are focused on their local work, and haven’t been able to sustain their global connections, thus they do not feel called to visit the site and are unable to give any recommendations for improvement.
  • Some Jammers do not visit the site because it doesn’t seem to be used by other Jammers, and they have no way of knowing whether the site has been updated.
  • The search engine doesn’t allow Jammers to search for fellow Jammers in their community as well as search for Alumni doing similar work.
  • Some Jammers would like to see specific updates from fellow Jammers who attended the same Jam they did.

How has Facebook benefited them in staying connected or meeting new Jammers?

  • Most Jammers have found Facebook to be a useful tool in staying connected with other Jammers who have a Facebook profile, as it has been convenient to receive updates about fellow Jammers.
  • Facebook has allowed Jammers to stay connected in ways they wouldn’t have after the Jam, but for some it hasn’t led to substantial collaborations, follow-up conversations.
  • Some Jammers live in communities where they do not have constant access to the net, so they are not able to stay connected over the Internet, and need much simpler ways to stay connected.
  • Some Jammers intentionally choose not to have a social networking profile, as they would prefer other ways in staying connected.

Do they have any suggestions for improving the site or any general suggestions?

  • Overall, Jammers would prefer to have a more interactive site, with regularly updated and exciting content from fellow Jammers.
  • The search function needs to be improved, so they are able to find fellow Jammers in their community and aligned work.
  • A webpage dedicated to field questions about their needs and offerings.
  • A webpage where they can post blogs about issues going on in their communities.
  • Have the site available in different languages.
  • Provide opportunities for teleconferencing, so Jammers can stay connected and collaborate on different projects.

Conclusion

Compared to the results from the 2006 Alumni Survey, Jammers continue to feel that the Jams are a transformative experience, where they have developed a supportive community to either continue with the work they are doing in their community or identified their true passions and are fearlessly following them. Many Jammers continue to stay connected with one another after the Jam, either through Facebook, emails or as they travel around the world. Through these connections, they continue to collaborate and support each other on various projects that impact their immediate community and trickle to the rest of the world – such as protecting the Amazon, empowering young girls in Senegal, coordinating health and sports programs in Kenya, bringing awareness to indigenous rights in Alaska and so on. Through the numerous Jams held in the past 10+ years, a supportive Jam Community has developed but could be even stronger. Alumni would like more structure to stay connected with fellow Jammers afterwards – both personally and professionally.

Recommended Next Steps

YES! has been successful in developing a transformational week-long Jam experience for the majority of Jammers in the past 10+ years, yet Jammers are craving more structure on ways to stay connected about what Jammers are up to after the Jam. Below are a few recommended next steps to encourage more consistent follow-up and connection:

  • Possibly extend the Jam to allow additional time to connect and have ‘free time’ for reflection. 
  • Create or suggest ways Alumni can continue to connect after the Jam, either in-person or over the internet, for both national and international Jammers – such as Facebook, in-person gatherings led by Alumni, reunions, etc. 
  • Create an online message board-like space, where Alumni can freely state their ‘needs and offers’ related to their life and work, as well as share new ideas.
  • Offer opportunities for Jammers to travel to one another’s homeland, so they can learn from one another’s communities first-hand.
  • Tools for how to bring the Jam activities and structure to their communities.
  • Continue to build the Facebook community, as many Jammers have profiles, and stay connected in this way – a place where personal and professional updates are made. Also, update the YES! Jams website through the merge with yesworld.org making it more interactive and easy to find other Jammers in their local community. If Alumni are able to stay connected through Facebook and the new Alumni section on yesworld.org, then the Alumni Newsletter can be dissolved by directing the ‘Resources and Opportunities’ section to the Alumni section webpage. 
  • Be a place of resource, where Alumni can go and seek information from YES! and Alumni to be successful in their life and work.

YES! Jam Alumni Evaluation 2008 – 2009
Submitted By: Jenny Uribe, Program Coordinator