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Bench Mark Program – Tracking System

Grant support Commercial Gym Member Tracking System.

Bench Mark Program is a grass roots organization that survives largely through the sweat equity of the young founder and attraction to the at-risk youth.  BMP is creating successes within the community.


$2,395

Awarded

How will you sustain the project beyond expended grant money?
  • Bench Mark Program has allocated a portion of its annual budget to cover the $75/month expense associated with operating the security cameras and DVR system that was purchased with grant monies from The First Nonprofit Foundation (hereafter referred to as “The Foundation). In response to the positive impact that this security system has had on the security of the organization and the safety of its participants, the Bench Mark Program Board of Directors has deemed this recurring expense a necessity.
  •  Bench Mark Program has minimal upkeep costs associated with continued use of the Strider Desk (active classroom equipment) that was purchased with grant monies from The Foundation. After one complete year of use, the Strider Desk exhibits no signs of wear/tear and needs no repairs.
How will you utilize what you learned?
  • Through the use of the security camera and DVR recording system, we learned that unfortunately there is occasional theft at Bench Mark Program. Due to the nature of the student population that we serve, this is an inherent risk that we recognize. Using the camera system however, we have been able to limit theft significantly, and in the process, create valuable teaching moments for students who we now catch on camera taking things that they should not take. Only on one occasion have we experienced a repeated theft by a Bench Mark Program student (thankfully caught on camera). In all other cases, we have used instances of theft to remind students to simply ask their mentors for what they need and we will do everything that we can to meet those needs.
  • The security system is one of our best teaching tools to address accountability and respect for the organization. The security camera system has also allowed us to control/limit use of the gym after-hours by select students and staff. We learned that occasionally when we grant this permission to select students, our trust is broken when students bring individuals that we do not know into our facility. With recorded film we are able to address this with the student (another teachable moment) and make sure that our gym facility is safe without concern that outsiders, who we do not know, are entering our space.
  • The security system has also allowed us to monitor the interaction between students during regular program hours. With a limited number of staff, it is difficult to keep our eyes on every students’ interaction with other students. It is very helpful for our staff team to be able to sit together and review the gym footage from an evening when an interaction or altercation occurred between students that we were not immediately aware of.
  • Use of the Strider Desk has taught Bench Mark Program that so many of our students need to simply move their body in order to concentrate. The body/mind connection is stronger than we ever imagined, and proof of this lies in the fact that many Bench Mark Program students with ADHD can hop on the Strider Desk, swing their feet with the motion of the desk, and miraculously concentrate on their school work or homework on the computer in front of them.
If you were starting over, what would you do differently?
  • If we were starting over, we would have made an effort to purchase more “active classroom equipment” like our Strider Desk much sooner in our organization’s history. The Strider Desk improves the focus of nearly every student who uses it while working on a specific task, and we would benefit from equipping our entire academic center with similar active classroom equipment. As it turns out, the company that makes this active classroom equipment also makes tables where multiple people can use Strider Desks while all facing one another (perfect for our group discussions). We would have invested in this equipment much sooner.
  • If we were starting all over, we also would have installed security cameras much sooner. We recognize now that aside from limiting theft, the security camera system makes program participants feel safer in our facility, knowing that we’re catching everything on camera. They trust that anything that happens to them will be recorded and addressed by a staff member if necessary.
What was the problem that the project solved?
  • The enhanced security system (two new cameras) allows us to monitor the entire Bench Mark Program facility, instead of just the entrance door and one limited angle of the gym (as we had prior to this upgrade).
  • The Strider Desk allows us to provide an outlet for students who struggle to concentrate unless they are “fidgeting” or “twitching” slightly. The leg movement facilitated by the Strider Desk helps our students concentrate for longer periods of time while they are working on a resume, looking for jobs online, or completing homework.
Who does the project help?

The project serves Bench Mark Program students between the ages of 14-24
who are involved with the Department of Juvenile Probation and displaying poor
behavior in school. The majority of Bench Mark Program students (55%) are
truant. The majority of Bench Mark Program students (85%) live below the
poverty level.

What makes the solution unique?
  • Bench Mark Programs focus is on building relationships with students and
    helping them to develop leadership skills. One of the most important traits of a leader is: Accountability. The security camera system at Bench Mark Program holds us all accountable for our actions and provides Bench Mark Program staff with a wonderful teaching opportunity when a student is caught breaking a program rule. Simply providing camera footage of a student reminds them that while they might not think anyone is watching, they still need to behave like a leader. Using the security system as a teaching tool has greatly improved Bench Mark’s leadership training and discussions about accountability and respect.
  • The use of the Strider Desk is a unique solution to improving classroom
    concentration because most students have never experienced a desk that allows them to “fidget” on purpose. Our students are used to be told: “sit quietly in class” and “focus,” when in actuality, we have learned that moving around actually helps our students focus.
How did the project make a difference?
  • Enhanced security has not only made Bench Mark Program a safer place for
    youth in our community, but it has provided our staff with a wonderful leadership teaching tool to help youth in our program understand accountability and respect.
  • The Strider Desk has enabled our students (who have trouble focusing without fidgeting) to maintain task-focus during their homework and resume writing exercises with their mentor.
What were the benefits?
  • Enhanced security at our facility
  • Increased sense of comfort and security felt by staff and students
  •  Security camera footage can be monitored remotely
  •  Decrease in the occurrence of theft at the facility
  • When a theft occurs, staff can use recorded footage as a teaching tool to help students learn accountability and respect
  • Strider Desk helps students focus who wouldn’t otherwise focus without moving their bodies.
  • Strider Desk helps students understand that it is acceptable to fidget, and they can be productive while fidgeting with our active classroom equipment.
What were the results?
  • Incidences of theft in 2018 (with limited camera coverage): 9
  • Incidences of theft in 2019: 5
  • We have not tracked the number of students who used our normal desks vs. the Strider Desk. Anecdotally, we can report that students enjoy the Strider Desk much more than they do the traditional desk. We recognize that certain students who need to move their bodies to concentrate, gravitate toward the Strider Desk.
How were the results measured?
  • Decrease in the occurrence of theft has been measured by staff reports.
  • Occurrence of coaching sessions regarding accountability and respect (using
    camera footage) measured by staff reports.
  • Staff (anecdotally) have also commented that students are making use of the
    Strider Desk.
How is the project sustainable?
  • The costs of maintaining our security camera system are minimal and have been deemed as necessary by the Bench Mark Program Board of Directors (ensuring their inclusion in our annual budget).
  • There are no major upkeep costs associated with the Strider Desk and it’s
    continued use.
Can the project be replicated? How so?
  • At future Bench Mark Program facilities, the same camera system will absolutely be installed. Thanks to the grant from the First Nonprofit Foundation, we now recognize the importance of this 24/7 camera system. It will certainly be replicated at any facility where Bench Mark Program operates.
  • More active classroom equipment (Strider Desks, Stepper Desks, etc.) could
    certainly be purchased to replicate the success of our first Strider Desk. In an
    ideal world, Bench Mark Program would be able to outfit its entire academic and career center with active classroom equipment.