BECOME Week: Culturally Responsive Evaluation on a Shoestring Budget by Dominica McBride

Hi, my name is Dominica McBride and I’m Founder and CEO of Become, a nonprofit using culturally responsive evaluation (CRE) as a tool in realizing social justice and thriving communities. We view the following components as essential to CRE: 1) learning and responding to the culture of the community throughout the evaluation, 2) partnering with and building capacity in the community that’s being served by the program or policy, 3) responding to the context through advocacy and/or organizing. These components, in addition to the evaluation itself, can get costly. As a nonprofit, we have learned ways to minimize costs and still conduct a CRE.

Hop Tips:

  • In learning and responding to culture, partner with local students who have experience working and/or living in the community being served (or a community with similar demographics, assets, challenges, etc.). Graduate students often are looking for a chance to apply what they learn or give back to the community. We have had wonderful experiences working with students in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Applied Behavioral Analysis, and Community Psychology, among others. These graduate programs overlap or integrate evaluation, so are a good fit for the work.
  • Partnering with members in the community served by the program fulfills many purposes, from building capacity to realize their dreams for their community to lessons learned about culture, content, and humanity for ourselves. When residents volunteer on projects because they want to make a difference in their community, it has also helps to defray costs. There is so much local talent, wisdom and knowledge that can well serve the evaluation, program, and related policies, it is important to utilize what is there.
  • Responding to context can be an intense endeavor. We have found it helpful to partner with local professionals who are a part of volunteer or philanthropic groups. For example, when Illinois’ governor cut violence prevention and youth development funds, thus, cutting one of our partner’s program budget in half, we partnered with them to write a report specifically for advocating reinstatement of lifesaving funds. We didn’t have a budget for this, so we collaborated with a group of volunteer hackers to create a community index for advocacy purposes. We also partnered with a volunteer graphic designer who helped design the report.

Rad Resources: Integral values and lessons from the Asset-Based Community Development Institute can be helpful in planning a CRE on a shoestring, as taking an asset-based approach is necessary in simultaneously minimizing costs and contributing to sustainable social change.


The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Become: Community Engagement and Social Change week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from authors associated with Become. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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