City Spotlight: South Salt Lake City

Promise South Salt Lake is an initiative within the increasingly diverse community of South Salt Lake, population 24,000, dedicated to building a citywide system of supports for youth and families.  Promise South Salt Lake was officially incorporated as a city department in 2012 with strong support from Mayor Cherie Wood. The South Salt Lake Mayor’s Office, with the support of South Salt Lake Recreation Department, Police Department, Community Development Department, and Urban Livability Department works with United Way of Salt Lake and a broad variety of partners to provide dynamic, highly specialized community and out-of-school-time programming with an academic and prevention focus at five school-based and four neighborhood-based locations throughout the city. Promise partnership programs currently serve 2,458 youth and adults. While 96% of Promise South Salt Lake’s funding comes from private grants, five of the community centers are operated in city buildings.

Partnerships Focused on Action and Results
South Salt Lake has been highly effective in establishing strong partnerships. These partnerships have resulted in over $1.3 million in partner-delivered community services. In an effort to pull in partners and stakeholders that might not naturally support afterschool efforts, Promise South Salt Lake developed eight committees to oversee the work of the nine neighborhood centers. The eight committees focus areas include: jobs & economy, safety, education, arts & community, health, neighborhoods, and housing. The committees strategically identified key stakeholders who specialize in the committee’s topical area.

Each committee has established a set of overall goals, such as the health committee’s goal to decrease the number and percentage of children and adults who are obese. These goals are actualized by a set of objectives, for example, adding fitness and nutrition activities to South Salt Lake events. From this they develop an action plan and timeline complete with benchmark goals and data driven indicators of success. Committee plans and outcomes are highlighted monthly in the city’s newsletter.
Focused on these clear goals and objectives, Promise South Salt Lake must manage a large amount of data to help drive their decision-making. Their partnership with United Way of Salt Lake served an integral role in developing Promise’s data collection system. Currently Promise utilizes Social Solutions’ Efforts to Outcomes software that assists them in tracking youth and family interventions. School district and city attorneys developed a FERPA waiver that allowed access to student data for even more targeted decision-making.  

Data such as this allows members of Promise’s committees to effectively address their issue areas through the strategy of providing out of school time supports to parents and families. For example, between the years 2006 and 2007, data showed that out of 180 students enrolled in a particular neighborhood’s afterschool programs, only 18 children were repeat participants. This data was indicative of a greater issue of transiency in the neighborhood, an issue that affects real estate agents, developers, residents, renters, and homeowners. This larger concern regarding transiency rates brought organizations to the table such as the Community Development Corporation of Utah and multiple banks. Promise proposed to these partners that an ideal solution to addressing the wider issue of community stability would be to establish community center that provided targeted youth and family supports such as English classes, citizenship classes, and a family liaison program. By 2013 the data showed a new story: families were remaining in South Salt Lake. Between 2012 and 2013, of the 180 afterschool program participants more than 160 participated the prior year.