Lisa Kilpatrick of Diakon Youth Services' Bridge Program has benefited from the organization's Tuition Assistance Program promoting staff education.

Education key to success – for both youth-service participants and staff members

Media, Pa. Wednesday May 28, 2014

Lisa Kilpatrick, program manager for Diakon's Bridge Program in Delaware County, Pa., is the proud new recipient of a master’s degree in Public Administration from West Chester University—thanks in part to Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries’s Tuition Assistance Program.

Previously a juvenile caseworker at Diakon’s Media, Pa., office, she began pursuing her master’s in the fall of 2010, taking two or three classes each year while continuing to work full-time. The Bridge Program helps adolescents build a foundation of self-discipline, education or job training, and respect for family, teachers, the law, and self.

“There were occasions when it was a little difficult to balance work and school, but it really wasn't too bad," Kilpatrick says. “I thought the budgeting class was going to be very challenging, but it was more creative and fun than I thought it would be."

"It really enhanced the skills and knowledge that I already have and it'll make me a better leader for our program."

Her personal budgeting was made a bit easier by Diakon's Tuition Assistance Program, which paid for two of her classes each year, which she terms “a huge help financially.” TAP is designed to assist Diakon staff in furthering their work-related educations. Since 2001, 365 employees have benefited from TAP educational funds, with support totaling $716,000. During 2013, Diakon paid $41,650 in tuition costs for eligible employees.

In fact, Kilpatrick's concentration in non-profit administration will go a long way toward helping her on the job, she believes. "It really enhanced the skills and knowledge that I already have and it'll make me a better leader for our program." Among courses she found particularly useful were an organizational theory class, which focuses on management skills; a strategic management class about planning for the future; and the budgeting class.
   
As a result of studies, for example, in research methodology, she'd like to make the Bridge Program's pre- and post-testing for children more evidence-based.

"We're contracted through the county's juvenile justice system, so it's important to be able to show that the kids are making progress. We have questions on which the youths rate themselves when they start the program and again at the end, so that we can see the changes that result—their goals, how they deal with frustration, anger management, decision-making, and so on. And this evidence offers insight into how the program is working."

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