Today is the national celebration of Lights On Afterschool.  SPARK is celebrating all the great afterschool happenings in our area with the Itasca Networks for Youth (INY).  Courtney Johnson, Community Engagement Coordinator with SPARK and U of M Extension offers this blog post to highlight how the network advances quality afterschool opportunities for kids in our area. 

From Courtney Johnson:


This fall Itasca Networks for Youth (INY) is celebrating its 10-year anniversary!

To learn more about the Network and its positive impact on youth over the course of the last decade, I devoted my Master’s project to conducting a case study on INY. Through the project I describe (1) the history of the Network (2) the impacts INY has had on the community and (3) identified partners hopes for the group’s future.

Beyond gaining a rich understanding of how INY was developed, I was able to “dig deeper” with the assistance of past and current Network partners to identifying what makes INY, well-INY!

Key findings from the case study include:

  • INY’s third-party facilitator support has been key to its success
  • Diversity of partners creates a rich learning and sharing environment
  • High quality trainings retain partners and improves youth programs in Itasca County
  • A strong focus on the work inspires and encourages partners

I encourage you to read more about INY in my case study.

Please feel free to contact me with comments, questions or if you’d like to dig deeper into the study.

I was inspired by INY’s history and important elements that have created a strong and impactful network- a true treasure to the community. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did creating it!