Society benefits greatly from the sometimes-fraught relationship between the funder and the funded, and program evaluators can serve as bridges to effective partnerships. This session explored the intersections of funder expectations, non-profit innovation, and the AEA Evaluator Competencies, as animated in a case that used human-centered design to improve access to healthy foods while strengthening a community food system. Presenters described the case and led participants through a design thinking activity to establish an optimistic mindset before working in small groups to discuss scenarios representative of the challenges faced in the case. Participants discussed particular competencies that if engaged, could foster the best possible outcome for program participants, while critically exploring appropriate boundaries for program evaluators. Facilitated discussion focused on the opportunity program evaluators have to influence innovative practices drawing on the same pragmatic, inclusive, intentional, and dynamic ideas embodied in the essential evaluator competencies.