1. What do you most appreciate about In Progress? What strengths, achievements and values make In Progress an attractive investment?: My intersections with them have been few, but good.
The fact that they work with youth. They are very dedicated to working with youth and young people. They seem very devoted to the people they serve. Have really devoted a great deal of time in the area of media. Have used media as a way for the young people to express themselves and explore matters of interest to them. This is often about race and economic realities.
I also like the diversity of the program. The fact that they connect with young people from so many ethnic and racial backgrounds. Badly needed in the twin cities. There aren’t many orgs addressing that need. The fact that they work with youth of color makes them a very attractive investment. The kids are very devoted. Very attractive. Kids have short attention spans. These kids tend to stick around. That says something.
Overall they touch on quite a few bases in helping their constituents get stronger and become better equipped adults in a challenging world. They are very effective in strengthening the self-esteem of the people they serve. Especially with young people of color, self-esteem can be an issue.
Hard to measure success with this kind of program. How do you measure it? By going on to college or getting jobs? I don’t think so. The best way to measure is through the kids at the time. Does it seem like something they truly benefit from?
2. What makes In Progress unique in your eyes? How does In Progress stand out from other arts or youth development programs from your perspective?: The executive leadership is phenomenal. It’s like the people she works with she views as part of her family. I’ve not seen other leaders be this devoted to the people and to the work. It’s a job to others. It’s more than a job to Kris.
3. As you look into the next few years, what funding and community trends might have an impact on In Progress?:Most important is growth. Like all successful programs, In Progress would be more successful if they brought more people under their wing. Deeper and more investment from funders. That’s the only way to grow. Funding is always a big question mark.
There are way more kids out there. The funding world should invest more. In Progress helps the young participants become better members of society and achieve personal success. It would be unwise to ignore this. There aren’t that many programs for kids like this.
A major challenge of small orgs is staffing. Hard to do all the administrative and fundraising duties. They need a bigger staff. They need a full time development person. Raising money requires such a specialized skill. Paid staff are important. You can’t have that without money.
4. What do you hope to see In Progress do more of in the future?: Grow.
They should look at their various offerings for young people. Critically review them for effectiveness. Also think of new ways to engage. Young people have short attention spans. Young people have a lot of needs. In Progress can’t address them all, but could do more. Determine what is working, what isn’t and what more could we do to be more effective. At least every 5 years. That’s what you are doing now, right?
5. What other advice do you have for In Progress about staying vital into the future?: One danger about founder-led orgs, especially good founders that establish a good reputation, is reliance on that founder. If something should happen to Kris, make sure it doesn’t fall apart. I’ve seen that happen. They need to think about what happens after Kris leaves.