Intentionality is the key to us gaining traction in advancing EE principles
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This project is for both internal learning within Kresge and an external teaching case for the field. Key partners including the national program office (DAISA), the evaluation consultant (LFA) and the FreshLo Program Staff (Kresge Arts and Culture and Health).
By: Steven LaFrance
With which EEI community do you identify?
What is the status of this project?
We are now about a year and a half into the project. At the beginning of January 2019, we completed and presented our first substantive report of early cross-site findings. We discussed the report with the Kresge FreshLo team in two different sessions (with some overlapping participants and some different folks in the second meeting as well).
Now that you are deeper into your work, where are you gaining traction in advancing EE principles?
Now that we have done a round of data analysis and reporting, we continue to gain traction on the first principle of EE (evaluation should be in service of equity); we have gained traction on exploring questions about how historical and structural decisions and policies have contributed to the conditions in communities -- as well as how the communities are resisting and changing conditions; and we are about to make traction on the third principle of participant ownership as we prepare to share findings with FreshLo sites in the upcoming weeks.
In our analysis, we took great care to consider how each local context may be affecting what we’re seeing both in terms of progress and challenges. We resisted developing a single quantitative rating for each site in each outcome area because the work, and the change communities are pursuing, is far more nuanced than what can be conveyed in a single digit. We made sure that each community was represented as an example, highlighting strengths and how systemic and structural conditions continue to pose major barriers to equitable outcomes.
Why do you think that is?
Intentionality. We went into the analysis process with equity at the center of each conversation. We embraced the multiple subjectivities inherent in a multi-person team, and thus engaged in conversational analysis. Individual site liaisons would engage in pre-work to ensure the quantitative and qualitative data for each of their sites was initially entered, and then we each reviewed and discussed the ratings and data for every site together. We calibrated perspectives, challenging each other’s implicit biases as they surfaced. As mentioned above, we resisted the request to develop a single quantitative rating for each site in each outcome area because the work, and the change communities are pursuing, is far more nuanced than what can be conveyed in a single digit.
What’s next? What do you need to consider to keep things moving?
Next up is sharing the cross-site report with folks in community, which is happening in the next few weeks. Each site liaison will review the report with each respective community. Our goal is to position the sites with the evaluative information so that they can enhance the storytelling of the work they are doing in their community by putting it in the larger context of 23 FreshLo sites across the country. We also are planning to work with each site to determine if a site-specific product or tool displaying their data (quant, qual, multimedia) would be valuable for their local purposes. We will be conducting a second round of community visits to 15 of the 23 sites in the summer and fall.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steven LaFrance, MPH is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning for Action.
Over the past 20 years, Steven has provided evaluation, strategy, and capacity-building services to hundreds of nonprofits, foundations, and public agencies. Steven is a nationally recognized leader in the fields of performance management and organizational effectiveness and is an expert in developing systems, processes, and cultures that support the use of data and insights to drive decisions that maximize social impact.