Spring 2019 Updates: The Next Generation of Evidence
Greetings! For us, this season is truly a beginning, as the end of 2018 represented the successful conclusion of Project Evident’s ambitious proof-of-concept phase, made possible through strong partnerships among leading practitioners and funders, equally committed to stronger outcomes for communities.
A look back
When we launched in late 2017, incubated by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and supported by five intrepid funders (Barr Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and Overdeck Family Foundation), we set out with the idea that if practitioners could build and lead their own continuous evidence building practices, this would result in more innovative evidence-based solutions, better outcomes, and a healthier ecosystem.
We launched a proof-of-concept phase to pioneer strategic evidence building and explore what might work better for practitioners and funders. We are pleased to share that Project Evident met or exceeded the goals for its proof of concept:
We undertook 23 pilots with practitioners offering low-cost technology, tools and methods across the data lifecycle, from data collection to rapid cycle experimentation to visualization and reporting. Click here for more on some of our recent engagements.
We listened, learned, and adapted—simplifying tools and solutions, and developing new offerings to meet the unique needs of the practitioners and funders we work with. Click here to learn more about how we can help.
We expanded our reach through more than a dozen strategic partnerships, including with Tableau, Amazon Web Services, and ChildFocus. Click here to see who is in our network.
We developed a flexible operating model, engaging a mix of staff, consultants, and advisers with diverse backgrounds and expertise. Click here to meet our team.
We’ve committed to fostering the growth of the field through the publication of case studies, and participation in conferences and collaboratives. Click here to see how we’re advancing the field.
We also prototyped our cornerstone offering, the Strategic Evidence Plan (SEP), a multi-year roadmap to guide investments and activities for continuous evidence building and program improvement. Early adopters like Center for Employment Opportunities, First Place for Youth and PowerMyLearning were critical to the development of the SEP. With a dozen completed engagements under our belts, we can say with confidence that SEPs work. They’ve helped the organizations we’ve served improve evidence building, share knowledge, and attract additional funding. Indeed, we’ll be developing our own strategic evidence plan this year!
More than one year later, we’ve learned what it takes for practitioners to take control of their own evidence agendas, and the critical role that both private and public funders can play.
The past year has reinforced one of our motivating principles: Practitioners should be the engine of the evidence train—not the caboose—and drive continuous evidence generation for their organizations and the communities they serve. And funders have a key role to play, making investments for themselves and their partners to improve practice and inform investments.
A look ahead
Looking ahead, we have an opportunity to build on what we’ve learned and, in conversation and collaboration with all of you, introduce the next generation of evidence to the world: one that is tech and data savvy, agile and lean, connected and collaborative, and diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
We will be introducing new tools that allow organizations to align resources for impact, including a digital “SEP Builder” and a web-based repository of tools, talent, and knowledge solutions. We focus on areas that represent the greatest unmet need: evaluation, policy & procurement, and data & technology.
Among our new offerings is our Talent Accelerator, a learning model to strengthen data and evidence building skills of diverse leaders and practitioners. As part of this, we’ve worked to deepen understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices. For our Talent Accelerator, this meant intentionally having diverse presenters and practitioners in the cohort, articles from women and people of color, and raising awareness of how diversity and inclusion relate to session topics.
The next generation of evidence must be grounded in these principles, and we invite our community to help us on our journey to collectively build a truly ethical and inclusive organization and ecosystem. Although we have taken initial steps on this front, we intend to deepen our practice in 2019.
New and Noteworthy
We are committed to building the field by sharing knowledge and insights through events, resources, publications, and other vehicles.
We are pleased to announce our new website, which will give you a better sense of who we are and how we can help.
Learn from our experiences. Check out:
This case study about the challenges of scaling evidence across new priority areas and a national network.
A brand new resource, jointly produced by Project Evident and Results for America – a Request for Information Guide designed to build stronger, results-focused partnerships between government, human services providers and the community.
A look at the “last mile” problem, where available technology, tools, and talent are not making their way to the hands of nonprofit practitioners.
This report focused on practical steps that policymakers can take to support evidence-based policy.
An introduction to the SEP process and lessons from its development.
In related news, the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act was signed into law on January 15. The Act is designed to improve the ability of researchers, evaluators, and statisticians to securely use the data government collects to better inform policy decisions. Our Founder and Managing Director, Kelly Fitzsimmons served as an expert witness for the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, whose testimony directly informed the inclusion of evidence building in the Act. In addition, the new U.S. 2020 budget proposal includes for the first time explicit language about evidence building.
Come say hi at these upcoming events:
Wherever you are on the evidence-building journey, we can meet you there. If you have questions on how to take control of your data and generate evidence for your organization, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!
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