Evaluation of the Coach Across America Sports-Based Youth Development Program - Final Report

Amy Windham, Ryan Basen, Quy Nhi Nguyen, and Denise Mitchell

Research shows that coaches have the ability to affect youths' decision-making. Coaches trained in research-based, coaching-education programs and positive youth development can minimize negative experiences reported by youth sports participants. Coach Across America (CAA), a sports-based youth development program run by the coalition Up2Us, assesses, places, trains, and supports adult role models to handle coaching duties. AIR researchers evaluated the impact of CAA on underserved youth nationwide over the course of the 2013-2014 program year.

Findings revealed that Coach Across America was correlated with statistically significant improved physical activity levels, as well as reduced consumption of soda and fried potatoes. Youth demonstrated an increase in life skills related to making positive social connections and good decisions.

AIR researchers examined changes in youth outcomes concerning physical activity levels, nutrition habits, and manifestation of attributes shown to contribute to sports and life skills. The study aimed to understand how the coaching and role modeling of CAA-trained coaches correlated with improved outcomes—and to inform sports based youth development programs nationally.

Findings were based on survey data collected by Up2US from more than 2,000 youth in 19 cities at both program initiation (baseline) and completion. Up2Us shared the data with AIR, which conducted quantitative data analysis to measure overall youth outcome changes.