Evaluation 2020

Act later, plan now: how one Atlanta-based food funder is using evaluation to address equity and structure the organization around impact 

10-23-2020 14:48

In 2018, Food Well Alliance went through a significant transition, shifting from focusing on building community with broad activity areas, to being led by Atlanta food movement leaders working to create defined programs and strategies, each with their own evaluation plan aligned with an organizational theory of change. One important driver of program development was the evaluation process.

The evaluation process started with a theory of change, asking root cause questions about the drivers of inequity in the Atlanta urban agriculture movement. Three programs emerged from the theory or change process. Each team developed logic models and evaluation plans to track progress toward success and built in time for reflection, learning and relationship-building to combat white supremacist norms. 

Conclusions from the first pilot evaluation are as follows:

  • Need to prioritize. As teams set out to create their first ever evaluation plans, everything seemed to be high priority. As we work through results now, we will be able to determine which evaluation questions are essential and need more focus vs which can be sidelined until we have staff capacity to take on new questions and data collection efforts.
  • Evaluation as a process was embedded into the organization, and is an increasingly shared responsibility.
  • Internal & external evaluator roles continue to be clarified. Having both has allowed for continued focus on evaluation capacity building while implementing evaluation processes.
  • Evaluation as a tool in service of equity. Developing and implementing distinct programs and evaluation plans has allowed program staff to identify and focus on root cause questions around equity, systemic racism, marginalized and historically resilient communities and more.
  • Continuous improvement. Programs were created in 2018, and monthly learning and evaluation conversations allow for ongoing defining and refining of program activities, participants, and outcomes.
  • Adaptive capacity. Evaluation systems and capacity built allowed for adaptation during covid19 emergency response.
  • Programs vs. organization. Different tools are needed when it comes to assessing programs vs organizational functions. The evaluation process has helped identify the need for an organizational assessment and capacity building process in areas such as marketing, development, operations & evaluation.
  • Leadership alignment. Discussion of these evaluation questions and preliminary results has been useful for prompting board/staff alignment on goals.

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Session ID 2174 - Food Well Alliance eval.pdf   3.96 MB   1 version
Uploaded - 10-27-2020