CP TIG Week: Tips For Evaluating Community Inclusion Principles (II) by Susan M. Wolfe and Kyrah Brown

We are Susan M. Wolfe and Kyrah Brown. Susan is a community consultant at Susan Wolfe and Associates, LLC where she provides evaluation and capacity building services to nonprofit organizations and community collaboratives.  Kyrah is an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Arlington where she conducts community-based maternal-child health (MCH) research and provides evaluation capacity building support to local MCH coalitions and collaboratives.

Here is the second part of yesterday’s post on tips for evaluating Community Inclusion Principles:

Hot Tip: As part of the evaluation, explore the processes by which community members are engaged with the collaborative. Are all members notified of opportunities and do all have an equal opportunity to participate, or are members of the majority group inviting selected community members? Is the collaborative offering leadership development training to all interested community members to build their capacity to lead?

To reach a level of true community inclusion and empowerment requires that collaboratives include them as partners that share planning and decision-making responsibilities at the very least, and ultimately, that community members fully lead the collaborative, have control over decisions, including which initiatives are priorities, and determine how funds will be allocated.

Hot Tip: One indicator of the extent of true community inclusion is the extent to which community empowerment is explicitly included in the collaborative mission and vision, and whether structures such as by-laws and committees require community member leadership. If they do not, then there is always the potential for the collaborative to morph back to control by powerful and privileged individuals and organizations from outside the community. Additionally, take note of where meetings are held (in the community?), the time of day, and who is paid to attend versus there as a volunteer. Are community members paid for their time and efforts?

Hot Tip: Attend meetings and use structured observational rubrics to assess dynamics such as who speaks most often, who is engaged in decisions, how often do community members defer to professionals, how do professional members and officials respond to community member ideas or input (do they follow up or dismiss their comments)?

Rad Resource: To evaluate inclusion requires fully understanding the levels at which community members may be involved. One useful framework is Sherry R. Arnstein’s Ladder of Citizen Participation.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating CP TIG Week with our colleagues in the Community Psychology Topical Interest Group. The contributions all week come from CP TIG members. 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@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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