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Developing a Strategic Evaluation Plan

February 23, 2018 @ 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

This one-day workshop on Developing a Strategic Evaluation Plan for Civic and Community Engagement is the kick-off to a series of sessions designed to increase the capacity of campuses in our region to answer increasingly sophisticated questions about the impact their programs are having on students, the community, and campuses.

This first session starts with the development and use of a framework to create a three to five-year strategic evaluation plan.  Strategic evaluation plans, like any good strategic plan, enable a campus program to ensure it has the resources, expertise, structures, and procedures in place to conduct evaluations that answer an array of questions subsumed in “Are we making a difference?”  Further, using a three to five year period enables campuses to move from engaging in what are often unconnected short-term evaluations to a more strategic approach that examines a variety of questions about the impact of particular program components across populations and contexts.

This highly interactive workshop assumes that there will be both individuals and programs with a range of experience in program evaluation.  Participants can expect to:

  • Develop an understanding of how to develop a multi-year evaluation and/or assessment plan.
  • Have a framework with associated questions and worksheets to use with colleagues to develop a plan.
  • Identify resources,  campus partners, and next steps.

This foundational workshop forms the basis for subsequent workshops that will examine best practices for the evaluation of program impact on students participants, communities served, and on our institutions. This workshop will be led by Cathy Burack and Alan Melchior of the Center for Youth and Communities (CYC) in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.  

About the Facilitators:

Cathy Burack is a Senior Fellow for Higher Education at the Center for Youth and Communities (CYC) in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. For the past twenty-five years, Cathy has focused on ways faculty, students and administrators can work together to fulfill the civic missions of their colleges and universities.

Through her work at CYC Cathy works with colleges, universities, and community organizations to use evaluation to both “prove” and “improve” their programs. Her research and capacity-building efforts attend to both outcomes and systemic change. To that end Cathy has conducted evaluations of campus-based change initiatives including conducting a national evaluation of institutional support for civic engagement, developing measures of student success, helping to set up the Corporation for National and Community Service Learn and Serve America LASSIE data collection system, and conducting multi-site evaluations on campus-wide change initiatives. Cathy is currently co-Principal Investigator of the evaluation of the Campus Compact Connect to Complete (C2C) initiative, a pilot peer-support program at nine community colleges, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the GreenLight Fund’s Social Innovation Fund initiative evaluation. Past evaluations have included Girls Who Code, serving as the evaluation partner, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Community College Transfer Initiative, an initiative designed to enable low- and moderate-income, academically able, community college students to transfer to selective colleges and universities, and of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s Project Compass, a program focused on the retention of underserved students.

Cathy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Rochester, and a Doctorate in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University. Cathy’s work is under-girded by her core beliefs in the power of reflective practice, collaboration, the importance of creating learning organizations, capacity building, and development of communities and the individuals who inhabit them.

Alan Melchior is the Associate Director and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Youth and Communities at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management. He brings over twenty-five years of experience managing a wide variety of policy, evaluation, and technical assistance and training initiatives in the fields of youth, workforce, and community development.
Mr. Melchior is a nationally-recognized researcher in the field of service-learning and community engagement with over 20 years of experience evaluating school, community, and higher education-based service-learning programs. Major projects have included the national evaluations of the Serve-America and Learn and Serve America programs for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS); studies of the institutionalization of service-learning for the CNCS and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; and evaluations of national and regional service-learning programs. With colleagues at Abt Associates and Brandeis he helped design and manage the national Learn and Serve America program reporting system (LASSIE) from 2003-2013.
Mr. Melchior has also served as the lead evaluation partner for the FIRST robotics programs since 2002 and has conducted more than a dozen studies of FIRST’s national after-school robotics programs. He currently leads a multi-year longitudinal impact study of FIRST programs that is tracking over 1200 participants and comparison students over a five year period to assess the program’s impacts on STEM-related attitudes and educational and career choices. Other STEM-related work includes an evaluation of an initiative aimed at increase the capacity of public libraries to serve as STEM resources in their communities, evaluation of a national program aimed at engaging young women in computer science, and work with Earth Force, a national environmental education and service-learning initiative.

Mr. Melchior’s recent work has also included several studies focused on postsecondary access and completion. Projects include the evaluation of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Postsecondary Success Initiative and YouthBuild’s SIF-funded Pathways to Postsecondary Initiative, two multi-site efforts to build partnerships between community-based organizations and community colleges to improve access to and success in postsecondary education for opportunity youth. With colleagues at Brandeis, he is also serving as an evaluation advisor for the GreenLight Fund’s SIF initiative, providing evaluation support for GreenLight’s six SIF grantees working in the areas of youth and education.


February 23, 2018
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
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Brandeis University
415 South St
Waltham, MA 02453 United States
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