School and Community-Based Health Education
We partner with more than 50 DC public and charter schools to provide 8-week health education programs, and we partner with local organizations and government health departments to provide health education and health screenings at community events.
Our innovative model uses non-traditional health educators (NCAA student-athlete role models) to build trusting relationships where teens are able to learn the basics and openly discuss sensitive issues related to their health. Our curriculum has been proven effective in reducing health disparities by a rigorous experimental design.
Civic Engagement of NCAA Athletes
Our organization is effective because we have been able to mobilize a generation of promising university student-athletes to get behind our work. Each year we recruit and train more than 100 NCAA varsity athletes from four local universities to become Grassroot Coaches. After undergoing a 4-day training in curriculum delivery, health literacy, cultural competency, and classroom management, our Grassroot Coaches facilitate our school-based and community-based programs across the city. In addition to training our athletes as Grassroot Coaches, we invest in their leadership potential, their cultural competency, and their nonprofit management skills.
Our athletes are not just volunteers at The Grassroot Project—they help drive our day-to-day operations at all levels. As a result of their participation as Grassroot Coaches and as members of our “Leadership Team,” many of our athletes have been inspired to pursue careers in the public sector, from going to medical school to entering the Peace Corps and Teach for America.
Research, Evaluation, and Communication
We believe that evaluating the impact of our work should not be an afterthought or a simple administrative task. Research and evaluation are core to our organizational culture. We collect real-time data on the outputs and outcomes of our athlete trainings and our school and community-based health education programs, and we are constantly analyzing data to see what we’ve done really well and where we can improve. Over the past seven years, we have also partnered with external groups to conduct three separate independent evaluations of our work. As we aspire to scale up our programs, we also think it is critical that we share both our success and our failures. For this reason, we constantly look for opportunities to speak at conferences, share our white papers, and learn from what others are doing in the public health and youth development sectors.