Dynamic Program Evaluation

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“Become has given our youth a voice.” – Jocelyn Jones, Executive Director, The Ark of St. Sabina

Our work is based in Culturally Responsive Evaluation (CRE). This evaluation model is a social justice tool for evaluations committed to cultural integrity, community empowerment, and sociopolitical change. Our process includes collectively learning what happens in a program and the effects of the program, coming up with a plan to improve those effects (amplify the impact), and carry out that plan together. In this process, our goals are to:

  • Excavate Truth – Work in-depth to identify needs on three levels: the individual, programmatic, and within the larger community.
  • Evoke Value – Gauge the success of a program to help organizations make informed decisions about their work; we assist organizations to pinpoint areas where they can shift their methods and document what’s working in ways they can share with supporters and partners to sustain or grow funding.
  • Enhance Results – Amplify the impact so that successful programs have greater effect on more participants.
  • Engage Community – Teach organizations and communities to evaluate themselves so they can continue to learn and improve. Community members’ involvement in evaluation infuses their voices, needs, and culture into programs.

One example of our approach to evaluation is our work with The Ark of St. Sabina ^(http://becomecenter.org/goto/http://thearkofstsabina.org/). We built an evaluation team of community members, organizational staff, parents, youth, and elders. This team identified the need to enhance youth programming to build leadership and advocacy skills. Through this work we met Tabatha (a pseudonym), 11, who stopped going outside and became reclusive and shy after witnessing a murder 2 years ago. As a result of the programs The Ark developed, she is now helping develop and implement violence-prevention projects, serving on our community evaluation team and dancing in front of hundreds of people at community events.

We’ve also done program evaluations recently for Hip Hop Detoxx ^(http://becomecenter.org/goto/http://www.hiphopdetoxx.org/) and the Boys and Girls Club of Chicago’s ^(http://becomecenter.org/goto/http://www.bgcc.org/) 21st Century Learning Center program. For the latter, we conducted focus groups at 5 sites where youth informed program improvement efforts. They learned to look at the goals and objectives of the program as “little evaluators” whose insights will inform future program shifts.