Clients & Projects
We have extensive experience working with philanthropic, governmental, non-governmental, industrial, non-profit, and advocacy organizations. Our content expertise includes evaluation of health promotion, public health, social services, environment, energy, mental health and education programs.
■ Empowering Adolescents in Taking Charge of Their Health
As part of its work on the Adolescent Health Project (AHP), the Women’s Fund of Omaha (WHO) focused on problems of adult sexual education illiteracy, high sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates among teens, and high racial/ethnic disparities in teen birth rates. When the WHO reached out to us for help, we concluded that it wasn’t enough for adults to design a service system that met adult ideas of what youth want—teens themselves had to have a voice in designing and carrying out this program.
Working with the WHO, we ensured that the AHP youth services were directed toward and by adolescents’ needs, wants, and values. We gave youth in the Omaha, Nebraska community the power to evaluate the AHP and make decisions on its direction and services through youth action research project, youth advisory committees, teen councils, teen-produced videos, and teen participation in learning collaborative meetings. As a result, WHO and the AHP nearly doubled their outreach to youth within a year, providing free contraceptives, STD testing and education, and expanded services to youth and young adults in the LGBT community.
■ Giving a Voice to Colorado Immigrants and the Friends Who Help Them
The Colorado-based American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) worked with us to retroactively evaluate the impact of its immigration and human-rights work to date with limited historic data and develop an ongoing evaluation plan that reflected the AFSC value of “leading from behind.” Together with AFSC, we aimed to learn how the organization’s reflective processes could be improved through participatory evaluation tools and a more collaborative approach to communicate more effectively with allied partners and projects, such as Coloradans for Immigrant Rights (CFIR).
Working with the AFSC, we incorporated the voices of immigrants and volunteers through stakeholder interviews and results discussions. We created geographic information system (GIS) maps that showed where AFSCcreated materials were being distributed to multiple cities, states, and countries outside of Denver. We also provided training to AFSC staff in participatory evaluation methods to ensure that the organization’s ongoing self-evaluation would be immigrant-informed.
■ Identifying Meaningful Solutions for Homelessness
Homelessness is a pervasive crisis in the United States, and organizations such as the Sherwood Foundation in Nebraska aim to provide meaningful solutions that extend beyond temporary shelter. Our challenge when working with the Sherwood Foundation was to identify locally feasible solutions that substantively reduced regional homelessness in areas where only fragmented homelessness prevention services existed. Together with the Sherwood Foundation, we identified high-impact strategies that have support among other community leaders and funders. In addition, we conducted literature reviews and return on investment (ROI) reports showing the success and cost effectiveness of these strategies in other communities. We finally identified roadblocks to community change and helped the Sherwood Foundation prioritize strategies to create a new homelessness prevention system that featured transportation options, mental health/substance abuse treatment, and safe, affordable housing.
■ Assessing the Economic Benefits of Safer Streets
To revitalize local business and encourage more pedestrian/biker activity around a small Minnesota city’s downtown area, the municipality’s City Council unanimously approved the Complete Streets project—a complete overhaul of the city’s major roadway systems. In response, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota contracted with us for pre- and post-construction studies of local business owners’ perspectives on the road redesign’s
impact on their businesses and the community.
Through our studies, we identified benefits no one had anticipated—the Complete Streets project resulted in reduced automobile crashes and increased cohesion among downtown business owners. Partnered with Blue Cross, we pinpointed city-business owner communication and collaboration as key to the project’s success; creative problem-solving helped business owners thrive through construction. “It is a project we can all really hang our hat on with great pride,” said a stakeholder.
For other communities interested in future similar projects, we also created an infographic summarizing economic impact on businesses and local business owners’ success strategies.
■Strengthening a Coalition to Put Arizona Kids’ Needs First
A Phoenix, Arizona organization dedicated to early childhood development, First Things First, called on us for a series of evaluations on a collaborative coalition of several dozen community-based organizations united in fostering early childhood development and preventive healthcare. To help this coalition, we put together a preventive health collaborative evaluation plan, which targeted the coalition’s effectiveness in facilitating collaboration among the area’s preventive health care.
Our project included such strategies as participatory logic model development, in which we pictured the logical relationships among the coalition’s resources, activities, outputs, and outcomes. We also conducted stakeholder surveys, identified short- and long-term outcomes and indicators of the coalition’s success or shortcomings, developed data collection tools, and piloted a data collection development effort.