As detailed in this report, Casey's evaluation efforts were challenged by shifts in Making Connections’ design, management and emphasis over the course of the 10-year initiative. At the same time, these challenges produced a flexible, “learning-while-doing” approach to assessing site progress toward achieving better results for neighborhood children and families — a needed departure from more rigid and less meaningful methods of measuring community change initiatives. As the report concludes, Making Connections’ evaluation broke new ground — especially in the sharp focus it gave to measuring local capacity to achieve and sustain results and in developing new, performance-based ways to manage and improve the initiative’s implementation.  

January 10, 2011

In This Report, You’ll Learn

  1. 1

    A brief history of the field of evaluating community change initiatives, and how that history influenced Making Connections’ evaluation.

  2. 2

    The rationales and assumptions that drove Making Connections' evaluation design, including the decision to conduct the evaluation “in-house” rather than through a third-party evaluator.

  3. 3

    The key elements of the initiative’s evaluation, including the Making Connections cross-site survey, theories of change and impact, definition and measurement of local capacities needed to achieve and sustain results, process documentation, and tools to assess and manage progress in sites.

  4. 4

    What the Casey Foundation learned from its work to evaluate Making Connections, and implications for its community change work moving forward.

Key Takeaway

The complexity of a multiyear, multisite evaluation takes flexibility and communication between players

The challenges confronting an evaluation of place-based community change initiatives are many, especially for a decade-long, multisite effort.  An honest effort to tackle those challenges requires flexibility, development of a wide range of evaluation tools, and — most important — strong communication between initiative managers, site teams, and evaluation staff and consultants. 

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations