"Of course evaluation should be in service of equity!" Now to how.

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The Kresge Foundation - Freshlo Teaching Case

By: Anna L. Cruz, Strategic Learning and Evaluation Officer at The Kresge Foundation

Brief background of project

Our EEI project is to develop a teaching case of our FreshLo Initiative’s evaluation. FreshLo is a national initiative focused on supporting the use of food as a platform for cultural expression, health, and economic development. The initiative is being evaluated by a third party and the teaching case of the evaluation will support the field’s learning—and our own—about what would look differently if we were to apply Equitable Evaluation principles. In line with the Case Method of teaching, this teaching case will present the stakeholders, decisions points, and a snapshot of the evaluation along with a facilitated discussion that invites everyone to re-imagine evaluation through an EE lens.

Status of project as of writing

As of now, the EEI team has been deep in data collection—from document review to observations of the evaluation presentations and engagement with grantees and stakeholder interviews—and is getting ready to begin writing the teaching case. This period of data collection has also included a lot of reflection points internally as an evaluation team and alongside our program colleagues.

How Kresge is making the case for EE within their organization

There are a number of things that have and continue to help our case-making:

Deep commitment to equity: Kresge’s north star to expand opportunity in America’s cities for low-income people is a mission of equity. Along with our program side of the house, we are committed to ensuring all foundation functions are in service of equity—including learning and evaluation. Our core value around equity has allowed for us to make the case for a more equitable evaluation.

Our learning and evaluation practice is young: In a GEO blog post earlier this year, Chera Reid shared some reflections on aligning the foundation’s mission with our evaluation practice when she stepped into the role as the foundation’s first director of strategic learning and evaluation in 2015. I won’t repeat her reflections here, but I’ll say that because our formal learning and evaluation practice is quite young, we’ve been able to learn from other peers in the philanthropic space, we haven’t faced the need to unlearn or deconstruct a lot of entrenched practices that get in the way of this way of thinking, and when we’ve grown our team, we’ve added folks who are committed to this way of working.

WHICH EE PRINCiple helped make the case for ee

Because of the foundation’s commitment to equity, we’ve really found the first principle—that evaluation and evaluative work should be in service of equity—valuable in making the case for Equitable Evaluation. In many instances, the internal response is, “of course evaluation should be in service of equity!” but operationalizing this principle across the foundation is, to say the least, ongoing work.