Hi, my name is Dominica McBride and I’m a member of the Chicagoland Evaluation Association and the Local Affiliate Working Group, along with being the CEO of Become, Inc., a nonprofit using culturally responsive program evaluation as a tool in realizing social justice. We’re excited to welcome you all to the Windy City in November!
As you prepare to come to Chicago and connect with fellow evaluators, also prepare to learn from the city. This is both a wonderful and challenging place to be an evaluator. I want to take this time to share some of the recent local issues the city and state have come up against and for you think about and prepare to share your wisdom, talent, and skill in exploring solutions.
Chicago is a city of many strengths and many problems. There is much wealth but also poverty, great diversity but also segregation. There are quality city services that don’t get allocated fairly throughout the area. There is also rich culture and history in all of its 77 neighborhoods. In doing evaluation in Chicago, I have come up against these problems but also been informed and inspired by the history, cultures, and my fellow residents.
Some of the problems that I have witnessed in my evaluation work are the issues of quality education, employment, and violence (not just physical violence but the perception of violence). Even though we’re on a general upswing as far as history is concerned, this year, our movement towards equity has faced a barrier. On January 12, Bruce Rauner became governor of IL. Soon after he assumed office, he cut funding to programs, like youth development, violence prevention, and youth employment. These cuts drastically influenced some of our organizational partners, one having to serve the same amount of youth with less staff. These are all areas where evaluation can play a major role in making the case for reinstating and even increasing such funds.
Lessons Learned: The political climate can have a profound influence on programs, participants, and evaluation. Be prepared for political shifts to influence your work, especially if you work with marginalized communities. This may include developing relationships with politicians or ensuring that you have the resources needed to complete your mission regardless of the politics.
Hot Tip: As you plan your sessions and trip, look into Chicago and its history. Read about the assets and issues. Don’t let the media sway you one way or another.
Check out a February article about the budget cuts that were made
Get a “taste of Chicago” at http://www.choosechicago.com/
We’re looking forward to November and the Evaluation 2015 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). 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 contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to firstname.lastname@example.org.