Project Spotlight: The Evaluation Capacity Building Initiative 

MAI is the co-lead (with our partners, ImpactEd and The Pew Fund) of the Evaluation Capacity Building Initiative (ECBI). Through group learning sessions and individualized coaching, the first cohort of the initiative expanded the abilities of 30 Pew-supported organizations to monitor their ongoing progress, use data to inform their practices, and evaluate results to determine whether goals are being met and how to make improvements. You can read the stories of three grantees’ experiences in the initiative here. We are revving up for the launch of the second cohort of 25 grantees on January 22, 2020!

A New Decade for MAI

As MAI moves into its ninth year and the new decade, we are reflecting on our past and our path forward. In 2019, we have achieved many important goals, all of which stem from the curiosity, generosity, and commitment of our partners.

A Year in Review 

  • Worked on the ground with our partners in 14 states across many local communities to generate information to strengthen programs and policies to improve people’s lives. 
  • Documented the stories of first-time moms in low wage jobs as they transition to parenthood without paid leave and back into the workplace for 1000 Days.
  • Helped UWNYC focus the supports it provides to ReadNYC through a case study approach.
  • Advanced our understanding of algebraic and geometric concepts through computer programming through our multi-year evaluations of Bootstrap.
  • Wrapped up a year-long project with the Shriver Center on Poverty Law to help them identify and document outcomes across their multi-state networks and programs.
  • Formed new partnerships with BellXcel and the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, and strengthened existing partnerships with ImpactEd (through our work on the Delaware Department of Education and HIP evaluations), Research for Action and The Wallace Foundation (through our work documenting the challenges nonprofits in the arts sector face in becoming the most vibrant organizations possible to summarizing the evidence on the effectiveness of out of school time programs within the context of the Every Student Succeeds Act). 
  • Participated in professional development to hone our skills and disseminated learning from our work to help others in the field improve practice.

Find out about our other committed partners and the great work in which they're engaged by clicking here!

Looking Forward 

In 2020 and beyond, our team aims to deepen and expand our partnerships with nonprofits, funders, and government agencies, helping them execute high-quality developmentally appropriate external evaluations, and growing their own internal evaluation capacity. Our team will continue to advocate for and practice “evaluation for progress,” using our tools and methods to help strengthen programs, initiatives, and organizations; and to ensure that the authentic lived experiences of their participants are reflected in the work.

MAI feels strongly that performance measurement and continuous improvement is core to high performing organizations and nonprofits, and because many organizations need additional skills and funding to realize their internal evaluation goals, MAI will continue its evaluation capacity building “roadshow” in 2020, with the goal of demonstrating that cohort-based evaluation capacity building is cost-effective, feasible, and beneficial.

 

Recognizing that the field is flush with great evaluation experts and organizations, we will continue to forge productive, mutually beneficial relationships with our peers. Our relationships with Research for Action and ImpactEd are stronger than ever; our collaboration with them melds together diverse viewpoints and approaches and creates a more robust voice for our clients and work.

 

Because we are spending more time than ever in the field side-by-side with our clients and will continue to do so, MAI is looking forward to a new chapter without our “traditional” office. Instead, you will find us in the field or making the most of our home offices and our Philadelphia co-working space (to gather as a team and with our partners).