What is MEASURE?

 Tesia Shi
Tesia Shi

I was shocked and happy when I first received the MEASURE acceptance email. I had applied last minute and thought it was a long shot given Active Mind’s reach. As the introductory emails rolled in a week later, I was excited but unsure exactly what I had signed up for. 

MEASURE stands for “Mobilizing and Empowering Active Minds Students Using Research and Evaluation.” The new Active Minds program allows youth and young adults to provide feedback and ideas on the organization’s data collection and research efforts. Along with four other students, I participated in eight sessions about Active Minds, which covered topics ranging from data usage to promotional strategies. The sessions culminated in a final “Photovoice Project,” where we each presented a five-minute presentation on 4-5 images we felt represented youth mobilization. 

What initially caught my eye about the program was the opportunity to learn about research in the nonprofit setting and how it informed organizational programming. Having worked in different neuroscience labs in college, I was familiar with academic research. However, the research I worked on was generally only read by other people in the field and not for a general audience—any translatable impact on actual people seemed far into the future. My university always collected student data on various initiatives, but there wasn’t always transparency in where those survey results ended up.

MEASURE was a unique opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes view of how a large nonprofit such as Active Minds adapts to feedback. One of our first sessions was about collecting and defining demographic questions. My fellow students and I quickly agreed that some of the existing definitions around gender and sexual orientation seemedoutdated and needed edits. Having sat in on other advisory groups that didn’t go as well, I was surprised at how seriously Emily, our facilitator, took our suggestions. In another session about the pros and cons of using email vs. social media as promotional platforms, one of us mentioned how one of the newsletter links seemed to be broken. Emily immediately responded she would notify the marketing team to fix the issue. The respect and humility shown encouraged us to be open and honest in our critiques. Throughout the sessions, we brainstormed ways to engage students during webinars better, identified barriers to data collection, and evaluated previous infographics and data visualizations.

I appreciated most that in our eighth week, Emily walked us through a practical list of changes Active Minds would implement in the 2024-2025 year based on our feedback. Among them included:

  • Revising the privacy policy around data collection.
  • Updating messages for the 2025 Chapter survey.
  • Revising the activities for the 2024 Chapter Member Questionnaire webinar.

I learned that our feedback would be shared with the measurement and marketing teams and the executive team. I didn’t expect that our meeting content would be relayed to the top levels of the organization. 

MEASURE is an amazing example of giving young people a seat at the table. Several suggestions, such as email reminders before focus groups, seemed obvious to us as students but still need to be implemented. To truly understand the needs of youth, organizations need to take the lived experiences of young people seriously. Even as a recent college graduate, I realized that I had no idea what it was like to be a middle or high schooler post-COVID, and I appreciated hearing what my high school peers on MEASURE had to say. 

I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to participate in MEASURE, and I would highly recommend it to other youth who want to learn about data collection and utilization. If you’re unsure or don’t feel qualified, go for it – you never know the outcome!