Institutionalizing Sex Education in Diverse U.S. School Districts
The Working to Institutionalize Sex Education (WISE) Initiative is a privately funded effort to support public school districts to advance and sustain comprehensive sexuality education programs. LFA has served as the national evaluator for the WISE Initiative since 2009, providing ongoing guidance to the multi-funder collaborative in designing and implementing an evaluation to explore how, and to what degree, sex education is becoming institutionalized in WISE school districts. This new article, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, shares WISE’s successes in increasing access to sex education, removing barriers, and highlighting best practices. Download the Article.
PBS Hawai‘i HIKI NŌ Evaluation
HIKI NŌ (the Hawaiian phrase for “Can Do”) is a PBS Hawai'i Learning Initiative that mentors middle and high school students throughout the state of Hawai'i as they learn about all aspects of broadcast journalism and create PBS-quality video stories about themselves and their communities. Under their teachers’ guidance, students from 90 public, private, and charter schools from across the Hawaiian Islands learn critical 21st century skills and share stories from their communities to Hawai'i and the world. PBS Hawaii engaged Learning for Action to conduct an evaluation to explore HIKI NŌ's impact on teacher instructional practice and activities, specifically looking at the extent to which the program helps teachers to meet Common Core requirements and helps students to build 21st Century skills. Findings from the evaluation highlight that HIKI NŌ is a unique program offering valuable opportunities for teacher professional development and student skill development which extend beyond the HIKI NŌ classroom.Download the Final Report.
Cultural Humility Checklists: Tools for Designing and Implementing Culturally Responsive and Inclusive Evaluations
Data Matters: A Study on the Theory and Practice of Data Use in the Early School Success Initiative
What are effective practices in data use among school teams engaging in a preschool through third grade initiative? What structures and systems must be in place to support effective data use? These are key questions driving a study of data use implementation among schools participating in the Marin Community Foundation's Early School Success Initiative. In collaboration with MCF and the Marin County Office of Education, LFA explored these questions through extensive literature review, conversations with data use stakeholders, and observation of data meetings in action at each of the participating schools. The culminating findings include a framework outlining the critical components and structures that support effective data use in schools, a detailed summary of each of the critical components, and specific examples where we see these promising practices taking shape at schools in the Early School Success Initiative. Download the Report
Evaluation of Rockwood Leadership Institute's Cohort-Based Leadership Development Programs
Rockwood Leadership Institute builds the leadership and collaboration needed to advance social movements, cultivate and grow leadership, build social sector fields, and foster deep, strategic, and effective collaboration through its leadership programs. Rockwood engaged LFA in 2016 to evaluate their cohort-based leadership development programs. LFA partnered with Rockwood to collect qualitative and quantitative data from leadership development funders and Rockwood alumni. The engagement included the development of an evaluation plan, designing survey and interview protocols, data collection and analysis, and the creation of an outcomes evaluation report based on a survey of over 100 alums, a case study detailing how Rockwood’s Fellowship for a New California contributed to a major policy win, and a cluster study of 15 alums from different sectors. The evaluation demonstrates Rockwood’s contributions to changes in individual leaders and movement-level “wins,” and also provides recommendations to Rockwood to enhance their programmatic offerings. The summary shown here illustrates the key findings across the three evaluation reports. Download the Cross-Cutting Summaryor access thefull set of Reports and Executive Summaries on Rockwood's website.
Environmental Education Best Practices Benchmarking Tool
LFA and the Center for Venture Philanthropy developed this benchmarking tool to help organizational leaders and staff assess and reflect on their practices relative to standards of excellence in environmental education. Download the Tool
Point the Way Chicago-area Capacity Building Landscape Study
In 2015, a group of funders gathered to better understand the availability of quality capacity building services for the nonprofit sector in the Chicago area. They convened a Steering Committee and established an initiative called Point the Way, the long-term goal of which is to unite and coordinate efforts to improve capacity building in Chicago. The Steering Committee hired LFA to conduct a study on nonprofit capacity building needs and services in the greater Chicago area and beyond, and the experiences of those that use, deliver, and invest in them. Over the course of the study, over 400 nonprofits, capacity building providers, and funders provided input on the capacity building supports needed by individual nonprofits and shared their perspective on the ecosystem of capacity building in Chicago. The study incorporates a review of the latest literature on capacity building best practices and trends, and explores three model capacity building programs to understand why they’re successful and what lessons they can offer to consumers and providers of, and investors in, capacity building in the greater Chicago area. The report culminates with recommendations on how Chicago-area nonprofits, funders, and capacity building providers can work together to strengthen supports for nonprofits. Download the Final Report.
With support from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, LFA developed the Better Results Toolkit in partnership with a set of San Francisco Bay Area environmental education organizations that participated in a three-year capacity-building initiative called LEAPS (Leadership and Evaluation for Program Success). The toolkit guides organizations through the process of putting strong data-driven learning practices in place.
This 2015 case study richly describes United We Dream Network's remarkable journey in coalescing and accelerating the progress of the immigrant youth movement. We tell UWDN’s story using a visually engaging SlideDoc format – a combination of written narrative, graphics, and images – which consists of four main modules: 1) UWDN’s journey at a glance, 2) UWDN’s impact, 3) reflections on UWDN’s path forward, and 4) reflections for funders. As the learning and evaluation partner for Unbound Philanthropy, LFA developed this case study for multiple audiences: UWDN as it takes stock of what has been achieved and charts its path ahead, Unbound Philanthropy as it supports UWDN and lives out its “theory of philanthropy,” and other funders who wish to advance movement-building and immigrant rights. To develop this case study, LFA engaged in an array of methods, integrating data from interviews with over 30 individuals, insights from more than 20 documents, and statistics collected by UWDN. Download the Executive Summaryor the Full Case Study.
Please note that the Full Case Study PDF contains bookmarks so that you can jump to different modules and sub-sections. Once you have downloaded the PDF, click on the bookmark icon on the top right to see a list of the five main case study modules.
#PopJustice Executive Brief
#PopJustice is a six-volume report series directed and produced by Liz Manne Strategy and funded by Unbound Philanthropy and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. The series of reports – intended for funders, advocates, and entertainment industry insiders – explores the promise of population culture strategies in advancing social justice goals. The research confirms that popular culture can be an effective instrument for positive social change, and leveraged in the effort to improve attitudes toward immigrants and people of color. As the learning and evaluation partner for Unbound Philanthropy, LFA developed the Executive Brief that launched the release of the full #PopJustice series. Download the Executive Briefor see the full Six-Volume Report Series.
Global Glimpse's 2015 Evaluation and Impact Reports
Global Glimpse works to inspire a new generation of young Americans to become responsible global citizens. Global Glimpse engaged LFA to evaluate their current program performance, and to strengthen their internal evaluation systems and capacity with an eye for scalability as Global Glimpse grows. LFA revised Global Glimpse’s theory of change to align better with the program’s outcome goals, and revised and administered surveys of multiple program stakeholder groups to assess the program’s alignment with the framework. LFA improved Global Glimpse’s evaluation capacity by transferring the revised surveys to Global Glimpse for future internal administration, and improved Global Glimpse’s ability to align future evaluation results with their theory of change. LFA developed an evaluation report of the program’s 2015 results, with a focus on providing context about the successes and areas for improvement for the organization’s internal use. Global Glimpse used the newly available theory of change outcomes and these evaluation data to create their 2015 Impact Report. Download the Evaluation Report orGlobal Glimpse’s Internal Impact Report.
In partnership with Mathematica Policy Research, LFA developed a learning brief for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s Quality Innovation Challenge (QIC). The QIC, an initiative of the Foundation’s Population and Reproductive Health program, encourages new research and innovative ideas for improving service delivery, engaging communities, and increasing provider accountability in the reproductive health field. In 2013, the Foundation awarded grants to nine grantees around the world to improve the quality of reproductive health care. LFA and Mathematica developed grantee profiles for each of the awardees. Additionally, we developed a learning brief that synthesizes the achievements, challenges, and lessons learned from QIC grantees to provide insight into what does and does not work in quality improvement. The learning brief offers lessons from the QIC work on how to encourage innovation in the future. Download the Learning Briefand Grantee Profiles.
The Working to Institutionalize Sex Ed (WISE) Initiative provides much needed support to institutionalize sex education in public schools across 12 key states. As the national evaluator for the WISE Initiative, LFA has provided ongoing guidance to a multi-funder collaborative led by the Grove Foundation and supported by the Ford Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Oak Hill Fund, and additional funders. One product of the evaluation is the creation of the WISE Toolkit, an iterative, dynamic approach to implementing sex education. The WISE Toolkit emerged from the experience of the organizations participating in WISE and was captured, analyzed, and written by LFA. See the Online Toolkit
Investing in Healing: Supporting Trauma-Informed Care for Youth
Kaiser Permanente Northern California Region-Community Benefit Programs (KPCBP)’s Youth and Trauma-Informed Care grant program (YTIC) is a critical strategy for addressing community violence by focusing on prevention as well as healing. KPCBP engaged LFA to conduct a formative evaluation of the YTIC grants program. The LFA evaluation team collected qualitative data from each of the 20 YTIC grantees through site visits and in-depth interviews, as well as gathered process data to track youth participation and service use. The evaluation surfaced key findings that have informed KPCBP’s grantmaking strategy for addressing youth violence and trauma, and contributes to the growing body of knowledge in the field of trauma-informed care. Download the Report
LGBTQI Violence Prevention Needs Assessment
Together with the SF Human Rights Commission and the SF LGBT Community Center, Learning for Action has released a Violence Prevention Needs Assessment detailing how members of the LGBTQI community perceive and experience violence and the availability of resources. Commissioned in light of highly publicized attacks against the community, the assessment is meant to inform both local and national decision makers. Download the Report
Focusing for the Future: First 5 LA Strategic Plan 2015-2020
LFA launched an engagement with First 5 LA in March 2014 to develop its next strategic plan. The plan is built on a robust foundation of data, analysis, consultation with the community and First 5 LA stakeholders, and deliberation among the Commission and staff. The strategies presented in the plan provide a road map for increasing First 5 LA's contribution to improving conditions for families, the communities they live in, and the systems that support them. Download the Strategic Plan
Promising Practices to Develop a Preschool through Third Grade Model in Marin County
Since 2011, LFA has partnered with the Marin Community Foundation (MCF) to evaluate MCF's Early School Success Initiative, an ambitious 5+ year investment to develop a preschool through third grade (PreK-3) model in Marin County, designed to bridge the divide between early learning and K-12.
As part of the evaluation, LFA developed a set of learning briefs, exploring in depth four key topics at the heart of Marin County's efforts to develop a PreK-3 model: professional development for teachers and administrators, building partnerships between PreK and K-12, family engagement, and kindergarten readiness. Each brief outlines a framework on the key components for effective implementation of efforts in that area, based on both existing literature and what has been shown to succeed in Marin. Download the individual briefs: Professional Development, Preschool Partnerships, Family Engagement, and Kindergarten Readiness.
A Practical Approach to Systems Change Evaluation
As we seek to actively participate in and evaluate systems change initiatives, we need a conceptual framework that supports a clear, shared sense of just what it is we are all talking about when we say “system” or “systems change.” LFA has developed A Practical Guide to Assessing Systems Change to address these issues. It offers a framework and a set of tools to help evaluators operationalize systems change concepts, and set up an approach to evaluate systems change initiatives. Download the Report
Organizations in the social sector are increasingly venturing into new ways to tackle the social, economic, and environmental challenges of our day. More nonprofits, foundations, and public agencies are especially looking to systems change and to social innovation as they develop their strategies. Developmental evaluation is gaining momentum as an evaluation approach designed to help cope with complexity, capture emergent learnings, and support actors to reflect on learnings and use them in service of ongoing strategy development.
LFA has put together this short Guide to outline some ways that its consultant teams approach this type of work. The Guide is not a toolkit or a recipe; instead it simply lays out LFA’s current thinking on how to design evaluations that have a significant developmental component. Download the Guide
First 5 Sonoma County Annual Impact Report
The First 5 Sonoma County Commission funds an array of programs, services, and initiatives designed to achieve its Strategic Plan goals in the areas of health and healthy development, early childhood education, parent support and education, and school readiness. LFA has served as First 5 Sonoma County's local evaluator since 2004, helping First 5 staff and grantees to evaluate the impact of their programs and build capacity to conduct their own evaluation.
The First 5 Sonoma County Annual Impact Report is a comprehensive summary of the impact of First 5’s efforts in the past fiscal year, incorporating findings from program- and systems-level evaluation data. This report provides an overview of populations served as a result of First 5 grant making, as well as the ways in which First 5 has contributed to capacity-building and direct outcomes for children and families in Sonoma County. Download the Executive Summaryor the Full Report.
Evaluation of READ Global Community Library and Resource Centers
READ Global partners with communities to establish community library and resource centers in rural villages in Nepal, India, and Bhutan, providing villagers with access to books, newspapers, publications, and information technology that they could not otherwise access. To understand the impact of READ Centers in these communities, READ worked with LFA to develop a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework, and then field test the evaluation in select READ Centers in all three countries—five Centers in Nepal, four in India, and two in Bhutan. Download the Executive Summary or the Full Report.
LFA has developed this toolkit for organizations wishing to track their advocacy activities and impact. It is geared to direct service organizations which also conduct advocacy activities, and may also be useful to advocacy organizations new to evaluation. The emphasis is on taking steps that do not require a great deal of effort, and which capitalize on the inside knowledge that advocates have of their own work. It contains tips and guidance on identifying evaluation questions, tracking activities, articulating and measuring interim outcomes, and using findings to inform advocacy strategy. Download the Toolkit
Deepening Engagement for Lasting Impact: A Framework for Measuring Media Performance and Results
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the James S. and John L. Knight Foundation are committed to helping their media partners assess the impact and results of their work in order to remain competitive in the field and make data-driven decisions. As part of this effort, the Gates Foundation engaged LFA to plan, facilitate, and document a series of convenings in December 2011 and 2012 to inform the development of a framework for measuring the impact and engagement of media work. This framework is designed to assist media funders and grantees in understanding their audiences and their behavior, and to more effectively assess the impact and results of their work. Download the Report
Case Study of School Discipline Reform in California
At the core of The California Endowment’s (TCE) work is their Health Happens Here strategy. Health Happens in Neighborhoods, in Schools, and with Prevention – and Health Happens with All Our Sons and Brothers. TCE sponsored a case study of school discipline reform in California, and engaged Nancy Latham (LFA’s Chief Learning Officer) and two other consultants (Tia Martinez and Arnold Chandler) to research and write the study. The case study tells the story of how community and youth organizers, public interest lawyers, and statewide advocates came together to support school discipline reform. In a remarkably short period of time during 2011 and 2012, this issue went from the fringes to the center of policy debate – with ten bills introduced, seven passed, and five ultimately signed into law. These new policies are an important milestone in the effort to back away from overly punitive “zero tolerance” school discipline that fuels high drop-out rates among young people of color. These policies will make it easier for schools to support and educate, rather than marginalize, our sons and brothers. Download the Report
Measuring Public Media's Impact
The National Center for Media Engagement (NCME) commissioned this paper to establish a better understanding of public media’s current practices and possible paths forward for assessing impact. NCME enlisted LFA to conduct an environmental scan designed to identify and understand tools available to help public media organizations measure the impact, and demonstrate the value, of their work. Specifically, NCME asked LFA to (1) Determine if there are common impact measurement frameworks in use in public media; (2) Inventory currently available impact measurement tools and frameworks; (3) Document promising practices for measuring public media impact; and (4) Develop recommendations for increasing the effectiveness and usefulness of impact measurement in public media organizations. Download the Report
An Interim Review of the Knight News Challenge
The Knight News Challenge is a five-year media innovation contest designed to reward new ideas for gathering, sharing and using local news and information. Knight Foundation launched the contest in September 2006, at a time when the news industry was in great flux, as part of an effort to encourage greater experimentation in the field of journalism and media. To date, Knight Foundation has pledged nearly $22 million to four sets of annual contest winners in the search for bold community news and media experiments. LFA conducted an interim assessment and produced a cross-cutting evaluation report as well as a series of seven cluster reports on different groups of 2007-2008 winners. Download the Report, or the individual cluster reports: Field Building, Mobile Platforms, Innovative Tools, Citizen Media, Local News, News Games, and Public Media.
California LGBTQ Health and Wellness: An Overview of the LGBTQ Health and Human Services Landscape and Community Needs
The LGBT Health and Human Services Network engaged LFA to conduct a comprehensive mapping project to identify key opportunities and gaps in LGBTQ health and human services and funding in California. The study involved an extensive literature review and a survey of over 50 organizations providing health and human services to LGBTQ communities in California. The research results show a very thin safety net in some geographic regions, LGBTQ communities, and services. Overall, the health and human services needs of LGBTQ communities in California are largely unmet and require additional support and funding to ensure that these communities have access to quality health and human services. Download the Executive Summary
Educating Plus 50 Learners: Opportunities for Community Colleges
LFA collaborated with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to develop a national survey of community colleges (the survey was funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies). This survey was designed to assess the progress of community colleges in offering programming for students 50 and older. Of those that responded (204 out of all 1,174 community colleges nationwide), 84% reported having such programs (either in academics and enrichment, workforce training and career development, or volunteering). However, most colleges simply take existing offerings and market them to this demographic. Colleges still have a long way to go in truly customizing programming to this important age group.Download the Full Reportor the Executive Summary
Taking Stock of Venture Philanthropy
Stanford Social Innovation Review published this case study written by Steven LaFrance (LFA's Founder and CEO) and Nancy Latham (LFA's Chief Learning Officer) on a capacity-building initiative designed to advance the field of environmental education provided in Silicon Valley. Download the Full Article
Plus 50 Program Manual
From 2007-2015, LFA worked with the Plus 50 Initiative at the American Association of Community Colleges. The Plus 50 Initiative designed a new program that community colleges can implement to support students 50 and older to complete a college credential and advance their careers. LFA and Plus 50 developed a program manual that community colleges can use to replicate a Plus 50 program on their own campus. The manual guides colleges through five phases of program design and implementation: readiness, needs assessment, program development, implementation planning, and continuous improvement. Download the Manual
Evaluation for Organizational Learning: Basic Concepts and Practical Tools
You know your program makes a difference. But how do you show it? Evaluation can equip you with the information you need to demonstrate the success of your program. LFA's evaluation handbook provides tools and practical steps you need to define and measure success for your program, initiative, or organization, helping you to tell your own compelling, data-driven story about the change you create in the world. Download the Handbook