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An “Intangible Outcomes” Approach to Program Development & Evaluation:

Professional Development for Grassroots Community Organizations

The participatory approach to program development and evaluation is intended to help the leaders of grassroots community organizations document outcomes of their programs that are essential to their program mission, but are not captured by traditional program evaluation techniques. While traditional techniques generate data sets that are useful for purposes of accounting and for third party comparison, they are of limited use for documenting the iterative living-and-learning-in-place processes that characterize grassroots community organizations, or for enhancing the capacity of those organizations to address the social determinants that affect health and wellness in their communities

The professional development exercises were designed to help program leaders and other CBR practitioners systematically investigate the complexity of social determinants that affect their communities and iteratively plan and evaluate the efficacy of their programs with a level of nuance that reflects that complexity. The participatory action-research approach that informs these activities recognizes the importance of documenting the outcomes of the exploratory, iterative, and “formative” program development and evaluation processes that are characteristic of grassroots community programs to complement the “summary” data generated by more traditional techniques like surveys, epidemiological data, and attendance rates.

This approach is of particular importance in communities where social determinants such as sexism, geographic isolation, ageism, and racism contribute to health disparities between demographic groups, neighborhoods, and regions. In these communities, a shared consciousness about these social determinants is a pre-condition to the culture change and collective action required to ameliorate those disparities.

These methods and tools are useful for:

  • Investigating the impacts of social determinants, including impacts that are common to all members of a community and impacts that are unique to specific identity groups.
  • Assessing a community’s awareness of social determinants of health for purposes of program development and proposal writing.
  • Documenting shifts in community awareness and community capacity to act on that awareness for purposes of formative program evaluation and summary reporting.

DOWNLOAD a DRAFT Professional Development WORKBOOK (400K pdf)

If you think a professional development in-service or workshop would be helpful for your "grassroots" program leaders, contact InstituteDirector@DesignCoalition.org

Design Coalition Institute, Inc. 2088 Atwood Ave. Madison WI. 53704 › 608.246.8846 › InstituteDirector@DesignCoalition.org