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 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.

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!

Keep up to date by subscribing to future Project Evident updates.