The EE Initiative Vision

ask questions. build the field. shift the paradigm.


The 5-year Equitable Evaluation Initiative seeks to shift the evaluation paradigm so that it becomes a tool for and of equity for those that have placed equity as core to their work. 

Over the next five years (2019-2023), we intend to build an infrastructure that supports and advances:

  • The imperative of putting EE principles into practice

  • Shared inquiry: learning and sharing insights over "right" answers or check-box execution

  • Cross-sector learning and shared leadership

  • Field building and mutually beneficial support to advance shared goals

EEI Venn Diagram.png

THE EEI ecosystem

The EEI is focused on institutions that have already embraced equity as core to their work and equitable evaluation is an important next step to align their values and deepen their impact.

These institutions fall into three sectors: foundations, nonprofits/community, and evaluators/consultants. Their work is interdependent and each plays a unique role in shifting the evaluation paradigm.

We identify philanthropy as the entry point to this work: it is the primary "purchaser" and user of evaluation in this ecosystem. It drives supply (evaluators/consultants) and can also shape and resource demand from nonprofits and communities.

Foundations have the ability to shift and influence the way in which evaluation is “used” with communities/nonprofits. Our journey to a new paradigm begins (but does not end) with them.

Nonprofits and communities must be part of this evolution. The current evaluation paradigm does not serve them. It includes definitions and expectations around validity, rigor, bias, and objectivity that honor particular types of knowledge, evidence, and truth.

Academia and research validate evaluation practice, yet current norms do not place equity and context as central thus influencing ontological, epistemological and methodological choices.

As a consequence, nonprofits and communities have negative (even traumatic) reactions to traditional evaluation practice. It is not lost on them that evaluation is often an exercise of extraction with little return for them other than a narrative that describes them as less than or in need of.

Working together, this ecosystem has the power to influence and shift the role evaluation plays to authentically meet their respective and shared missions.

OUR theory of change

Our theory of change is informed by:

  • Co-crafting and co-leading this work with all players across the ecosystem

  • Working with each sector individually to meet them where they are and identify strategic next steps

  • Working across sectors to build shared understanding, challenge assumptions, and craft new approaches

  • Focus on early adopters to practice new ways of thinking and doing

  • Applying design thinking at the project-and field-building scales, generating new ideas, investing in prototyping, and testing for greater impact

  • Sharing learning and ideas generously, creatively, and strategically to engage, inspire, and advance the work