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Internal Eval TIG Week: Offering Free Workshops to Build Internal Evaluation Capacity within Organizations by Danelle Marable

Hello!  I’m Danelle Marable, and I’m the Director of Evaluation and Data for the Beth Israel Lahey Health Community Benefits team.  We are a health system with 13 hospitals in Eastern Massachusetts.  We support internal programs and external organizations that address access to care and the social determinants of health. When I started my new job a year ago, my Vice President wanted me to help all of our staff, programs, and organizations build evaluation capacity to use data, increase resources, and report outcomes.

My first task was to understand current knowledge and capacity of our staff and the programs we support.  For our staff, I had a discussion with each one to know their needs and what their challenges were when working with programs around reporting and outcomes.  Leveraging staff relationships with our programs and organizations, I then conducted a survey to gather data on the programs’ knowledge, capacity, and needs. 

From those results, I built 2 parallel plans to build the evaluative thinking and knowledge among staff and evaluation skills among our programs and organizations.  Staff received workshops that focused on building knowledge on evaluation and discussing how to work with programs to encourage them to incorporate data and reporting skills.  Programs and organizations received a series of workshops building on one another to incorporate simple evaluation techniques to improve their ability to gather and report data. Topics included Evaluation 101, SMART Goals and Objectives, Logic Models, Selecting Outcome Measures, and Program Monitoring and Improvement.

Rad Resource:

Read Cindy Crusto’s AEA365 blog on Promoting Equity Through Evaluation Capacity Building.  As the blog points out, many organizations who work with socially marginalized populations do not have the same access to resources to build their evaluation capacity.  By offering free workshops we can help increase high quality services that address the social determinants of health in communities we serve.

Lesson Learned:

By asking programs and organizations what they need, I am able to offer workshops that are meaningful that will help them leverage other resources to build sustainable evaluation capacity. I had a core group of 10 organizations that participated in all of the workshops.

Hot Tip:

I kept the workshops to 60-minute virtual meetings, with 20 minutes of presentation, 20 minutes in break out groups for organizations to discuss and brainstorm together, and 20 minutes of questions and wrap up.  I recorded each workshop, uploaded the videos to YouTube, and shared the links.  I also conducted satisfaction surveys after each workshop to gather feedback to make sure the next workshop addressed their needs.

Cool Trick:

I am now offering “Ask an Evaluator” virtual office hours once a month that organizations can ‘stop by’ and ask any data and evaluation question they might have.  Programs have enjoyed this laid-back style and just-in-time brainstorming to their evaluation challenges.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Internal Evaluation (IE) Topical Interest Group Week. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from our IE 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. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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