Who are our children and families?
We work hard to cultivate inclusive camp and school programs, accessible to all who believe in the power of our program. To understand who our campers and families are, our measurements include family zip codes; self-reported demographic information such as race, ethnicity, and gender identity; and economic status. We gather data using parent surveys, camper registration forms, and demographic questions included in evaluator surveys. LGBTQIA+ identification is a data point we are including in future surveys.
51% of families served
MAKE LESS THAN $60,000 ANNUALLY
The official poverty measure increases by a constant amount ($4,320) per individual in a household; this does not adequately reflect the increased cost of meeting basic needs. According to the “Defining Self-Sufficiency in New York City” report by City Harvest (2018), while there are 14% of households living below the official federal poverty threshold, 40% of households in NYC living below the self-sufficiency standard. Believing that families know their individual circumstances better than we do and that W-2s do not tell the whole story, we ask parents to self-select a payment tier that best first their needs. We have additional scholarships available for those for whom the program remains out of reach.
The following graphs depict a breakdown of camper demographic information collected in 2019.
How do we measure camper growth?
Who are our leaders?
To understand who our staff members are, our measurements include self-reported demographic information such as race, ethnicity, gender, and LGBTQIA+ identity; educational background; and neighborhood representation. We are interested in knowing how many of our staff are with us for multiple years, our balance of internal and external hiring, and how many staff move from front line roles to leadership positions.
We collect data using HelloInsight’s Pre-program Staff Needs Assessment tool as well as in-house surveys. We are developing tools both in-house and with an external partner to capture additional information that will help us better understand who our staff is and how we can best provide them with a meaningful experience that translates into powerful camp programs for our youth. In fall 2019 we implemented a Diversity Assessment with our Brooklyn-based After School staff to supplement demographic information collected upon registering in our staff enrollment system. Select results are below.
Do we have a sustainable people model?
Our leaders – that is, every Trail Blazers staff member – are the most important resource for the success of our program and our mission. We work to cultivate a diverse team representative of all Trail Blazers’ participants, where staff members are eager to do their best work each day. We gather data on the above points in a number of ways through our employee management systems, mid-season and post-season performance reviews, post-season staff evaluations of their employment experience, and HelloInsight‘s Staff Needs Assessment.
96% of overnight camp staff
FELT THAT LEADERSHIP WAS INVESTED IN THEIR SUCCESS
We work to cultivate clear paths for advancement. In our 2019-2020 After School program, 4 out of our 6 Site Directors had been promoted from within, with 3 having participated in 2 or more Trail Blazers programs, and 2 having been participants during their youth. We are proud to highlight that a member of our senior staff team began at Trail Blazers as an intern.
We are proud of our staff retention rate, particularly in our Brooklyn-based programs. In the 2019-2020 school year, 40% of our After School staff were returners. Our senior staff team of five has been with Trail Blazers for an average of 10 years, 9 months.
During and after every program, we put out surveys to understand staff satisfaction levels. Highlights from the close of our 2019 camp season:
- 100% of overnight camp staff felt that leadership was approachable
- 96% of overnight camp staff felt they were empowered effectively
We intentionally cultivate opportunities for continued engagement. This spring we were able to re-attract 5 former staff who had moved out of state to work with us again in our remote program. In January 2020, Trail Blazers formally adopted an Alum Engagement Committee as an official board committee.
Do we have a sustainable financial model?
In the last few years, Trail Blazers has grown from a predominantly single-service program to a multi-tiered youth services organization Like all non-profits, we have had to consider how the economic underpinnings of the organization support financial health and longevity.
Trail Blazers considers each program arm’s (Overnight Camp, Day Camp and School Programs) contribution to the overall stability of the organization; each program arm carries allocated portions of the core functionality expenses, the backbone of the organization that supports the full program portfolio.
Decisions on program development, expansion, or contraction are made strategically, considering programs in relation to each other, and in light of both short term and long term goals. With a focus on equity in access to our programs, the financial performance of individual programs, or components within programs do not follow a “one-size-fits-all” model. At any given time, strategic decisions are made about programs’ individual financial performance.
A common challenge for growing nonprofit organizations like Trail Blazers is the need to develop sufficient operational capacity, including operational reserves. For too many non-profits, operating on a break-even budget each year is considered sufficient, but we know this is not a sustainable approach.
We have developed an internal model that guides our planning and budgeting, and that considers both short term financial challenges, long term financial investments, and initiatives to build financial stability.
For more information, visit our Financial Reports page.