Data-driven learning:
why bother?

Environmental Education programs must be able to clearly answer these three questions:

  1. Can you clearly define your target population?
  2. Can you concisely describe the core components of your program that drive outcomes?
  3. What data do you have that shows you are making a difference and informs continuous improvement?
Most program leaders feel they have answers to these questions, but in fact lack data to confirm or challenge their thinking. The Better Results Toolkit can help ensure you have the information you need to describe your program approach and impact.

Knowing how and what value your program adds today, and how to make it better tomorrow, are the keys to achieving transformative results!

Case study:
Literacy for environmental justice

In 2012, Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ) completed a strategic plan calling for realignment of programs and structures. It achieved this alignment through a Theory of Change process. The LEJ goal: To ensure sustainability and effectiveness in creating long-term community change.
Background: After losing 40% of its funding, the organization was fragmented and its grant-driven programs lacked cohesion. Staff embarked on a Theory of Change process to gain clarity and synergy in its programs.

Progress: Today, LEJ programs are aligned within strategic priorities and grounded in defined outcomes. Staff work more cohesively across programs and no longer design new work streams to fulfill disconnected funding requirements. LEJ has implemented an evaluation strategy with new instruments for ongoing data collection. Program data are communicated via LEJ newsletters, board briefings, website, and grant applications. Staff collect qualitative data to humanize the impact of their work.

Added benefits: Since starting this process, LEJ received its biggest grant ever from a new donor. Staff, board, and partners are reinvigorated – they feel the organization has elevated its culture, performance, and ability to respond to external changes and opportunities. LEJ attributes its achievements to engaging in an ongoing, thoughtful learning process based in a Theory of Change.
Photo credit: Literacy for Environmental Justice