Field Notes

In “Field Notes” we’ll be regularly reporting on our evaluation work, discussing challenges, approaches, strategies, sharing learning. Hopefully colleagues will share any of their own insights!

Theory of Change Guide – In Spanish!

We recently translated our guide for a three day workshop we are facilitating for members of  Lutheran World Services in Central America. We hope you find it useful, and please feel free to share! ToC Guía_AEC_Oct2017

Decolonizing Development

We recently participated in a conference Decolonizing development: Whose Voice, Whose Agenda?  co-produced by INTRAC and the Centre for Global Development at the University of Leeds. The full summary of the three day conference can be found here at the bottom of the page. Catherine Borgman-Arboleda’s comments as a key contributor are here: Decolonizing Development_Catherine Borgman-Arboleda_full

Resources for building a participatory M&E system with strong learning focus

I recently put together a quick list of resources for an international foundation interested in embarking on the design of an M&E system with strong learning, participation components. 1) From Forging Alliances North and South, this relevant report on evaluating social change emerged from a dialogue between funders, CS and social movement groups from the […]

Evaluating Communities of Practice & Social Learning

During one of the days of the KM4Dev Seattle convening  we discussed the CoP Value Creation Framework. The framework identifies five stages of value creation for social learning – Immediate value (what you experience), potential value (what you get out of it), applied value (what you do with it) , realized value (results), and transformative […]

Reflections on Social Learning & Communities of Practice (KM4Dev Convening, Seattle 2017)

I recently attended a KM4Dev convening in Seattle Washington. KM4Dev is an international “Community of Practice”  focused on knowledge management, sharing or more generally social learning for development. The workshop was facilitated by the extraordinary Nancy White  who brings years of wisdom (and fun!) to the deep work of collaboration and learning and thought leaders […]

Embedding Evaluative Thinking into Social Change Initiatives

Embedding Evaluative Thinking_Reflections & Recommendations Included are some of our reflections and recommendations drawn from the last five years of longer-term engagements with foundations and international NGOs interested in developing within and between organizations and communities. (These were largely taken from recommendations of final reports, so to some degree written for an internal audience). Also see our […]

Participatory Action Learning

Blog posts on our learning over the last few years, with lots of resources and links to concrete tools! Participatory Action Learning – Insights into a catalyst for transformative change. Details on the Action Learning Approach – Concrete tools and resources.

Our Comments on Evaluation and Social Justice Philanthropy

Catherine Borgman-Arboleda recently presented an evaluator’s perspective for the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers webinar on Social Justice Philanthropy. Here are her comments.cba_social-justice-philantropy-slides_fin

Action Learning Tools

Orientation – Action Learning We believe in an approach to evaluation that can change fundamentally how the work of social change or development is done. We see evaluation as an opportunity to strengthen collaboration, decision-making, action-taking, and knowledge generation. This approach to evaluation, which we call Action Learning (borrowing from other, similar approaches), can help to shift how an […]

Readings and Resources – New Transformative Paradigms in Development, Aid, Social Change Work

Rethinking Development, Aid, Social Change (including role of evaluation) Books:   Aid on the Edge of Chaos: Rethinking International Cooperation in a Complex World, Ramalingam, Ben. The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development, Andrews, Matt Navigating Complexity in International Development: Facilitating Sustainable Change at Scale, Danny Burns (Author), Stuart Worsley (Author). The Politics of Evidence and […]

How do we support knowledge sharing and learning?

  Recently AEC member Catherine Borgman-Arboleda was involved with leading the design and implementation of a multi-country participatory monitoring and learning process for groups working on issues of women’s empowerment. These are a few key take-aways from the experience:  *Timelines need to come from the pace, rhythms, and priorities on the ground. This does not lessen […]

Evaluate for Change Workshop!

A 2-day workshop (May 23rd and 24th) specifically designed for social change and community-based organizations to learn how to use evaluation as a tool for change.  You will learn about evaluation as a critical tool for empowerment and strengthening your organizational capacity. Understand how to integrate learning and improvement into your organizational practice and strategy. Design […]

Building Community Advocacy Capacity: A Few Lessons Learned from Tobacco Policy Change

In the spirit of making sure that evaluation resources provide the greatest benefit, we are sharing these findings from an evaluation conducted from late 2009 to early 2012, for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Two members of AEC were senior evaluators on RWJF’s Tobacco Policy Change (TPC) evaluation. AEC believes in the importance of evaluation’s role […]

An Evaluator’s Contribution to Sandy Hook

Supporting Healing and Empowerment On December 14, 2012, a tragedy occurred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. A strong reaction rippled across the country and, in many cases, this inspired action to build awareness, peace and stronger communities. Within days, the Sandy Hook Healing Project (SHHP), developed by Heather Gunn-Rivera, opened its […]

Evaluating impact and defining success

A collection of resources on impact evaluation, with a particular emphasis evaluating complex social change and transformative development processes. Includes alternative and emerging approaches, and current debates around the politics of defining value.

Theory of Action/Theory of Change – From theory to practice….

Much of our work as evaluators and capacity builders integrates an approach called Theory of Action (ToA). ToA is similar to Theory of Change (ToC), and in practice there is often little difference between the two in implementation. Generally, ToA provides some boundaries to the process and focuses on an organization, initiative or program’s particular role […]

Linking Theory with Action – An example

Background: We recently conducted a Theory of Action process with a capacity building organization, the Progressive Technology Project (PTP), which works with political organizing and social movement groups in the U.S. The group wanted to develop their Theory of Action, but also have a very focused discussion linking the process to decision-making over the next couple years. […]

AEC is Working with MOUSE! The ongoing evaluation of innovative youth development/technology programming

In other exciting AEC news! We are thrilled to have the opportunity to continue working with MOUSE, an innovative youth development organization that empowers underserved students to provide technology support and leadership in their schools, supporting their academic and career success. MOUSE offers youth a variety of innovative programming, both in school and during out-of-school time. Two such […]

Capacity building-Mexico: Getting the community’s point of view

For background on this project, read Capacity building-Mexico:Reflections on a new project (below on front page..) Other than working with the grantee project staff on their Theory of Action, we also visited the project beneficiaries. Our goals were to understand what has happened to date, the community’s expectations, and the current baseline of the issue of concern […]

Capacity building-Mexico:Theories of Action and establishing an evaluation framework

As part of our project conducting a participatory assessment of a  foundation’s new grantee portfolio in southern Mexico, I’m now in the Yucatán, conducting site visits to groups on the peninsula. To recap, our goals for the project are:  1) Establish a monitoring baseline, which will retrospectively provide a snapshot of grantees’ progress to date based on stated […]

Just Associates – Power and Empowerment Framework

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Framework – Evaluating Social Justice Work

A visual we put together a number of years ago that illustrates some key concepts in theories of change for Social Justice work. We have found this to be helpful for understanding what to explore in evaluation projects, as well narrating the significance of findings in a context of longer-term change. Theories – Social Justice […]