“SETS looks like a great tool for assessing youth development outcomes, but there’s no such thing as “affordable youth development assessment.” Why does SETS cost so much less than other youth development assessment tools?”
We hear this reaction a lot at Merge, so we thought we’d better clarify.
Merge director Bill Rossi founded and ran a nonprofit youth development program for 20 years, and during that time the need for outcomes data grew — not just for program oversight, but for sustainable funding. Like many other youth development programs, it was a constant struggle to:
Rossi left the nonprofit world in 2010 and began creating SETS … a simple, easy-to-use assessment tool. It wasn’t automated, but it had a powerful effect on program funding. He later decided to create software that would work for a variety of after-school programs.
So, back to the original question: why is SETS so affordable? As we say in the SETS Overview video, we believe programs that individualize their instruction are uniquely effective with their students.
So, if smaller programs are going to use SETS, it needs to be affordable. There are also a few “nuts and bolts” reasons why it’s so affordable.
Here they are:
So perhaps that answers at least a part of the question. If you’d like to know why and how SETS was created and what it does, read on.
Working with social workers, other teachers, therapists, and software developers, educator Bill Rossi created SETS after 20 years in the youth development field.
He’d reviewed most of the available tools, but they are typically expensive and complicated and don’t track what Rossi found to be the skills and abilities we all need to succeed in life. This leads us to what is most unique about SETS. SETS is a very effective youth empowerment tool.
Rossi believes that the most essential and potent way to empower students is by developing their ability to learn. In fact, he believes students should be empowered to self-educate … but that’s for a future post. Suffice it to say that if students can’t learn well, they won’t be successful (or happy) in life.
So, when Rossi created SETS, he built the Student Observation Scale around the skills and abilities that everyone needs in order to learn. He calls them the Principles of Empowerment. There are 15 skills in all, including the ability to:
These “soft skills” are being seen as even more important as the world becomes increasingly digital. So, this one way SETS is unique.
SETS incorporates and reports on an array of assessments from a variety of sources:
This variety provides an in-depth view of the student that gives you great program oversight and demonstrates to funders that your in-depth approach is providing significant results. Social workers consider this an essential component of a wrap-around environment.
At Merge, we really are in this for the youth. Try SETS, and you’ll get it.
SETS makes sense, and it will help you get sustainable funding just like it did us. It has a 30-day guarantee so you’ve everything to gain, risk-free.
Mary Helen Rossi is Co-Director of Merge Education, which grew out of 20 years of after-school fine arts mentoring to over 2,500 challenged young people. Merge’s SETS software reflects this experience: as one client said, “It’s clear that a lot of thought and love went into SETS!”