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February 2020 GBEN Roundtable Summary: Building Evidence

02/27/2020 3:29 PM | Anonymous

On February 12, 2020, Chuck Carter, Senior Evidence Director at Project Evident, hosted a roundtable workshop and discussion on building evidence with 22 GBEN members.  The title of the workshop was entitled “The New Normal: Practitioners at the Center of Evidence Building.” 

Mr. Carter started the discussion by stating that Project Evident firmly believes that practitioners should be at the center of building evidence.  When led by practitioners, evidence building will result in better outcomes for communities.  The next generation of evidence must be:

  • Be Practitioner-Led: Practitioners must be empowered to move from the caboose to the engine to drive their own continuous evidence-building agendas.
  • Embrace Research and Development: R&D must become standard practice in the social sector to enable timely and relevant learning and innovation.
  • Elevate Community Voice: The needs, beliefs, values, and voices of the community must inform and drive the work of practitioners and the field.

Mr. Carter also stated is it critical that we intentionally build evidence with a diversity, equity and inclusion lens to continually understand what works, for whom, and under what circumstances.  Project Evident has developed an Evidence Matrix, a structured process designed to effectively promote and intentionally integrate a diversity, equity and inclusion framework into the evidence building activities of an organization or program.   The DEI Evidence Matrix helps organizations evaluate their current evidence building practices using a DEI lens, prioritize learning questions and identify next steps that drive towards equity focused outcomes.

Mr. Carter also provided 3 examples of what it might look like for practitioners to be at the center of evidence building.

  1. A non-profit engaging youth and young adults with lots of new data, a new program model, a developing data and evidence infrastructure, but also where staff are not focused on or prioritizing the collection or use of data.
  2. An urban housing authority with an established data team, clear evaluation questions, and the capacity for conducting experimental studies.
  3. A pediatric primary care program with a model that has shown positive impact, internal research and evaluation capacity, and has questions about effectiveness and scaling in new areas. 

The group discussion centered on how one can create a learning culture in the organization and engage practitioners.

The workshop concluded with some questions for practitioners to consider:

  • Are you using program data for decisions on how to improve the model delivery and participant outcomes?
  • Do you have a learning agenda that evidence can inform?
  • Do you have a theory of change? Is it reviewed on a regular basis?
  • Is senior leadership bought in?
  • Do you understand how data is collected, stored, shared, reviewed?
  • Are underrepresented and vulnerable groups a part of the data collection practices?
  • Are you collecting data that will highlight underrepresented and vulnerable groups?
  • Are there regular team performance meetings, learning goals, coaching for staff, and ongoing staff recognition?

Mr. Carter’s presentation slides can be found in the member roundtable resources section.

Greater Boston Evaluation Network is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 

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