Capacity building-Mexico:Reflections on a new project…


Our task: Set up and implement a participatory assessment of a  foundation’s new grantee portfolio in Southern Mexico.

 We just arrived in Chiapas, Mexico to conduct the pilot of a project we began working on this  summer. There are two primary goals of the project, which creates some tension. First, to  establish a baseline “read” of grantees working in mostly rural, largely indigenous parts of  Mexico, based on an evaluation framework/benchmarks that we establish together. The second  is to support the grantees’ ability to conduct monitoring and evaluation of their work, with an emphasis on learning. We are also being asked to do some sort of participatory video work with the program beneficiaries. We will be working with a researcher based in San Cristobal de las Casas, who has experience working in surrounding communities.

Project design:

  1. Work with program staff establishing their Theories of Action, and priority indicators to track over the next 1-2 years, and any plans they have for data collection.
  2. Discussion of what progress has been made to date (any data collection?) What sense do staff have, either formally or informally, that progress is being made?
  3. Field visits to communities to understand more about the project’s relationship with beneficiaries, and the beneficiaries expectations for the project.
  4. Compilation of eval frameworks, initial baseline data, including evaluator observations.
  5. Potential follow-up with grantees to solidify eval framework, collection of baseline data around particular indicators, and technical support for any instrument development, etc. (this to emerge from pilot..)

The challenges:

One day per grantee (!), our lack of relationship with communities, language barriers (many indigenous communities speak limited Spanish), some tensions around the degree of surveying, visits that have already occurred, etc., some uncertainty around foundation needs/goals/expectations.


  1. […] part of our project conducting a participatory assessment of a  foundation’s new grantee portfolio in southern Me…, I’m now in the Yucatán, conducting site visits to groups on the […]

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