Strive is a Wilmington-based nonprofit that was founded in 1996 as a Sports Challenge Leadership Academy. They work with students to develop research backed qualities of leadership that will serve as cornerstones for life-long success.

The team at Strive believes in making informed decisions based on assessment and research when it comes to the development and implementation of their programming, and that assessment requires data analysis.

Nonprofits like Strive are faced with a unique problem when it comes to the collection and analysis of data. It’s intrinsically expensive. Data analysis requires special resources, unique talent, statistical knowledge and data science skillsets. Each of these would be prohibitively expensive for a nonprofit that needs to spend its money on satisfying its mission, staffing and overhead.

What if one nonprofit took their research-based curriculum and published it to help other nonprofits with a similar mission of serving youth?

That’s what Strive wants to do. The company took the first step to get there by gathering data about the Sports Challenge program and its students, and they worked with CompassRed, pro bono, for the analysis.

CompassRed and Strive both have offices in The Mill, a coworking space in Wilmington, DE. The teams met there, and CompassRed made their desire to get involved with the local community known. Strive’s drive to improve their programming through data science made the two a perfect match.

Andrea Valentine, Executive Director at Strive, is a part of the nonprofit team that wants to help bridge that gap between wanting to invest in analytics and having the capital to make it happen. That’s why Strive ultimately plans to publish their curriculum as a way of driving their mission forward - extending Strive’s reach and impact,” Valentine explained.

Valentine indicated that Strive is committed to “holding ourselves accountable as a team that’s building a baseline” grounded in analysis. That includes building an intentional internal culture and staff that disseminates its own social leadership qualities out to students.

For the Sports Challenge, Strive recruits a group of around 120 students from across the country. They build a class that’s intentionally diverse, aiming to have a pool with 80% need-based scholarship receiving students. The program is a nine-day academy aimed towards developing leadership characteristics to make today’s students tomorrow's leaders.

Strive conducted entrance and exit surveys with its students from the Sports Challenge in 2017 with questions developed by university/related credible researchers that measured the same constructs they were set to measure within their identified leadership competencies. Once they had those responses in hand, CompassRed set to measure how the programs Strive put on impacted students.

Strive identified six leadership competencies (self-awareness, self-efficacy, grit, empathy, teamwork and gratitude), and they all improved across the board for the students in 2017’s Sports Challenge program.

Of the roughly 100 students who participated in Strive’s Sports Challenge in 2017, 82 completed both the pre- and post-program surveys. CompassRed took those responses and boiled them down into answers regarding each of the six leadership competencies. From there, they were able to accurately determine how much each student grew along these unique characteristics.

It’s important to note that CompassRed’s analysis covered the average change for each student between the pre- and post-program surveys, not just the average of the group.

Here are the average score changes for each of the six identified leadership competencies, visualized:


Four of the six leadership competencies (self-awareness, self-efficacy, grit and teamwork) saw statistically significant changes, and that’s exceptionally telling. Statistical significance carries with it the confidence of repetition. That is, Strive is 90% sure that, based on the results from this analysis, the next class of kids will see an increase in their teamwork competencies.

The level of statistical significance between pre- and post-survey results for the other competencies is even stronger, with grit up 8.2%, self-efficacy up 7.9% and self-awareness up 8.1%. That means that Strive is 99% sure that the next batch of students will see those competencies improve.

From a statistical standpoint, Strive’s work is on the right path, especially in regards to programming as it affects these four competencies.

By identifying four of the six competencies as seeing statistically significant changes, CompassRed can extrapolate that, for the following year’s students, Strive will likely see large positive changes in grit, self-efficacy, self-awareness, and teamwork. From a statistical standpoint, that means Strive’s work is on the right path, especially in regards to programming as it affects these four competencies.

As Strive develops an incredible curriculum and releases it to other nonprofits, they step up as a leader in the field. And CompassRed worked to be a part of that process.

More about CompassRed:

CompassRed ( is a data and analytics company working with global organizations to help them leverage their data in a better way. With a strong team of data scientists, technologists, and data story tellers – CompassRed has worked with some of the most iconic brands around the world since 2012 to provide insights through their predictive and analytics efforts.

More about Strive:

Strive, founded in 1996 as Sports Challenge Leadership Academy, is a non-profit dedicated to building character-based leadership skills in young people. With a focus on reaching children and youth from underserved communities, Strive designs and delivers dynamic, interactive leadership programs across the country. Strive believes, and research proves, that the social-emotional skills of self-awareness, empathy, self-efficacy, gratitude, grit, and teamwork are critical to life-long success. It is Strive’s mission to build these skills in the next generation of leaders.

AuthorRyan Harrington