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LA RED Week: Efrain Gutierrez on Six Good Practices for Evaluators Working with Latino Communities in the US

This is Efrain Gutierrez with FSG. In the last three years, I’ve had the privilege of evaluating the Lumina Latino Student Success effort, an effort to increase college attainment among Latina/os in thirteen communities in the US using a collaborative place-based approach. Through my interaction with grantees and beneficiaries I have learned a few good practices for culturally responsive evaluation when evaluating programs serving Latino communities.

  1. Recognize the different segments of the Latino community the program serves. Take the time to understand diversity within the Latino population and the various needs of different sub-groups. This will help you develop evaluation tools that will adequately capture the opinions, assets, and challenges of different segments of the Latino community.
  2. Understand the ways in which the local context might be affecting the Latino community. Learn about the broader political, economic, and cultural context in the region where the program is being implemented and think about how the local context might be positively or negatively affecting Latina/os. By having a good understanding of context you will be better equipped to explain how external factors might be affecting outcomes for Latino communities.
  3. Cultivate “confianza” with the community served by the program you are evaluating. The concept of “confianza” translates as “trust,” but includes ideas of confidence and familiarity. This means that evaluators need to be trusted professionally and personally. Meeting with the different stakeholders you will be engaging with through your evaluation activities and connecting with them on a personal level will help you receive honest and valid answers in interviews and focus groups. Another way to increase confianza is including Latina/o evaluators in your team.
  4. Engage local Latina/o leaders in your evaluation activities. Before starting your evaluation, take the time to meet and discuss your evaluation with Latina/o community leaders. They can help you cultivate “confianza”, provide insights into the community, and legitimize your evaluation work.
  5. Understand the strong sense of “familismo” among Latino communities. Familismo refers to a strong connection and commitment toward family. It can have potential effects in the decisions Latina/os are making on where to live, work, and study. Understanding this commitment to family amongst Latina/os can help you make sense of why program beneficiaries are making certain choices.
  6. Refer to the Latino community using a positive, asset-based lens. Describe your findings using language that honors the qualities and strengths of the Latino community. By highlighting the positive elements of the Latino community, evaluators can contribute to the development of better solutions that leverage community assets.

I hope these good practices help you conduct quality evaluations for programs serving Latino communities. ¡Animo!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group 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.

3 thoughts on “LA RED Week: Efrain Gutierrez on Six Good Practices for Evaluators Working with Latino Communities in the US”

  1. Hello Efrain,
    My name is Kelly and I am currently a student at Texas A&M-Central Texas majoring in Psychology. I think it is great that you have provided methods on how to approach the Latino Community. I am first generation college student of first generation immigrants. I have seen the reserve of Hispanic communities. Often education is not an important factor, and as long as you are “working hard” at an entry level job, many do not strive to achieve a higher education. As a Hispanic I can attest that my mother and family members are very hesitant in interaction with other individuals that are non-Hispanic. It is important to break free to a certain extents from our roots and strive to achieve a higher education. Thank you for providing ways to better approach Hispanics.

  2. Buenas tardes Efrain!

    It makes me extremely happy to see how as time passes more and more attention is being put towards minorities in the US, in this case Latinos. Your findings are very well described and basic to understanding the Latino community. “Confianza” is not given but earned.

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