Youth Development & Mentoring
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THE JEWISH EDUCATION PROJECT (TJEP)
Funder: The Jewish Education Project
Project Time Period: 2015-2016
Project Category: Evaluation and Performance Measurement Capacity Building/Youth Development
About TJEP: The Jewish Education Project (TJEP) is a New York nonprofit connecting forward-thinking educators to powerful ideas and resources to create new models that change how, what, and where young people learn.
The Work: MAI partnered with The Jewish Education Project to bolster their organizational performance management and evaluation efforts. Together, the project team built and implemented strong internal data collection systems and tools and collaborated on building a shared vision for assessing that program beneficiaries are getting the services and supports they need. MAI engaged in a three-phase project with TJEP to 1) develop a Theory of Change/Outcomes Framework for the organization; 2) design and support the implementation of data collection plans and tools aligned with the outcomes framework; and 3) facilitate reflection and learning to make meaning of data and inform future efforts. At the end of this project, TJEP had an outcomes framework that the staff and leadership bought into, tools for collecting data and a process for collecting and analyzing data. They also developed a data-informed culture and had the skills needed to sustain the work.
What We’re Learning: While the project was successful, it was not without challenges. TJEP, like many intermediaries, struggled with the extent to which they wanted to hold themselves accountable for “end user” or “learner” outcomes (learners are youth who benefit from innovations and excellence in teaching practices). This is because TJEP does not work directly with learners—they work with teachers to help them innovate and improve their practices. TJEP does this in service to improving learner outcomes; however, as an intermediary, TJEP also has no control over the extent to which teachers implement innovative approaches in the classroom. Ultimately, TJEP decided to include learner outcomes in its overall approach to measurement and learning. Getting to this point required MAI to think critically with TJEP leadership and staff. We recommended that one of the key benefits of measuring learner outcomes was to understand if TJEP was investing its resources wisely; in other words, TJEP would not want to continue to invest in approaches that did not result in positive impacts for learners, and, therefore learner outcomes were a crucial factor in understanding the successes and challenges of TJEP’s strategies. Ultimately, measuring learner outcomes really pushed TJEP staff and leadership to think critically and expansively about its strategy, mission, and goals, and is a “win” for the educators and learners who are poised to benefit from strong and effective TJEP programs.