Roadmaps for Continuous Improvement and Evidence Building in the Social Sector

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Project Evident is testing a new, strategic approach to evidence building that places social sector practitioners in the driver’s seat and embeds continuous data use, learning, and evaluation at the core of nonprofit operations. The ultimate goal is to increase the supply of outcomes-producing programs for communities that need them.

In 2017, we partnered with three nonprofit organizations to pilot the creation of Strategic Evidence Plans (SEP) – multi-year roadmaps to accelerate investments and activities for continuous evidence generation and program improvement that are grounded in each organization’s operational reality and learning agenda.

This report introduces the SEP process and discusses early lessons from the three pilots with Center for Employment Opportunities, First Place for Youth, and PowerMyLearning.

For the first time, I was able to stand my ground with a funder on our approach to evaluation and continuous improvement. I could do so because I could point to our SEP, which provides clear and thoughtful justification.
— Elisabeth Stock, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, PowerMyLearning
The SEP was exactly aligned with where we want to go. It’s important work that was a top priority for us. It wasn’t nice to have, we felt it was need to have.

— Sam Schaeffer, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Center for Employment Opportunities
Developing the SEP as an organization-wide, cross-departmental effort created a new level of shared accountability and intentional collaboration that has led to greater alignment between what we are doing today, tomorrow and next year, and our larger vision for the organization and change in the child welfare field as a whole.
— Erika Van Buren, Vice President of Evaluation and Learning, First Place for Youth