The mission of Stand Up! Help Out! is to make it possible for youth to experience their own leadership capabilities, to develop their personal and career-related strengths, to experience the benefits of a supportive youth group, and to improve their communities through volunteer activities such as providing community education fairs and mentoring children. Stand Up! Help Out! provides partnerships for youth that develop their self-determination and strengths, such as their reflectiveness about their decision-making, their communication skills, and their compassion for themselves and others. The youth evaluate the program and contribute to designing services on an ongoing basis.
Stand Up! Help Out! is an apprenticeship program funded by After School Matters, which makes it possible for youth to receive compensation and have this employment experience. The Stand Up! Help Out! program came about in response to a needs assessment conducted in concert with residents in the Madden Wells community, who wanted their youth to have additional supportive services to develop their leadership and career abilities, and who sought additional education about health and safety issues. Since 2006, the Stand Up! Help Out! programs have been steadily funded by After School Matters, and have developed with major input from the participating youth and their families.
The programs are led by Professor Katherine Tyson McCrea (Principal Investigator), Jeffrey Bulanda, Ph.D. (Program Director), Angel Pringle, M.S.W. (Instructor) and Tamara Holloway-Lee, M.S.W., (Instructor). Considerable support has been provided by faculty at the Loyola University of Chicago. Social work interns at the Loyola University of Chicago School of Social Work provide ongoing counseling support for Stand Up! Help Out! youth. Thanks to the work of Professor Elizabeth Coffman of the School of Communications at Loyola University Chicago, Stand Up! Help Out! youth author documentaries with the assistance of Loyola University Chicago Communications students. The Stand Up! Help Out! programs are located in University of Chicago Charter Schools (Donaghue Elementary School and Woodlawn High School), thanks to a partnership with the University of Chicago Center for School Improvement.
The Stand Up! Help Out! program draws from Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan) as a theoretical foundation. Self-determination theory (SDT) maintains that an understanding of human motivation requires a consideration of innate psychological needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness. The attainment of these needs become the necessary pre-conditions for psychological growth, integrity, and well-being.
For autonomy, youth are given opportunity to take on leadership roles, remain actively involved in the program, and allowed as much ownership and choice as possible in each of the program's projects. To provide an experience of competence, our youths' strengths (e.g. music, performance, dialogue, drawing) are recognized and utilized on various program projects. Additionally, the youths' contributions are recognized in the graduation ceremony at the end of the program. For relatedness, youth have experiences of taking care of others (i.e. the elementary students they tutor), recognizing strengths in others, (working as teams) and being taken care of (through relationships with the instructors).
The ultimate goal of the program is to develop the youth's motivation to participate, as well as to develop their self-determination to be successful beyond the program.