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A Case Study of the Avenue Scholars Foundation's Service Model Implemented to Help Teens and Young Adults Overcome Circumstances of Poverty

Laura L Miller, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This qualitative case study examined one nonprofit organization’s journey in pioneering and implementing a program to help teens and young adults overcome the poverty-related barriers of academic preparedness and employment opportunities in Omaha, Nebraska. Data sources included interviews with a purposive sample of organization leaders and historical documents including annual reports and newsletters to address the guiding question: How and why has the Avenue Scholars Foundation’s (ASF) service model evolved over the course of the organization’s first ten years? The study also addressed the following sub-question: How does ASF leadership perceive the impact of the service model on student acquisition of capital (cultural, social, academic, economic)? Major findings from the study revealed that ASF’s service model shifted from providing high school and postsecondary students with broad support for pursuing unlimited career options requiring a four-year degree or less to a narrowed focus on providing employment-based support for entry into local high demand, high skill, high wage jobs requiring an associate’s degree or less. Leaders’ rationale for changes to the service model included lessons learned by trial and error, new opportunities and resources, expectations around efficiency and improvement, desire to add value to the community, local job market data, and revised understandings of the extensive developmental education needs students faced. ASF leaders perceived that major service model components such as student relationships with fulltime coaches, access to early college experiences, part-time employment and internships, and scholarship funding have helped students acquire social, cultural, academic and economic capital. While the organization’s mission remained relatively stable, underlying tension around the decreased emphasis on education and increased emphasis on employment raised three critical questions around the length of ASF’s service model, its benefits, and the extent to which postsecondary education matters. The case study was limited to a single nonprofit organization and the perspectives and insights of the participants represented in the study.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Educational sociology

Recommended Citation

Miller, Laura L, "A Case Study of the Avenue Scholars Foundation's Service Model Implemented to Help Teens and Young Adults Overcome Circumstances of Poverty" (2020). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI28156253.