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Data and Evaluation Accelerator

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Location

MetroWest Regional Transit Authority

15 Blandin Avenue

Framingham, MA 01760

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Description

Join Foundation for MetroWest for our half-day Data and Evaluation Accelerator! This event will help you build and sustain a learning culture at your organization and will benefit both people entirely new to the field and experienced evaluators. In addition to an opening speaker and time for networking, participants have the option to attend one of two specific workshops.

*Please note, you must register for a specific workshop to attend this event and priority will be given to individuals who are staff, board members, and/or volunteers at MetroWest serving organizations.

Event Schedule

8:30 – 9:00am: Registration, Light Breakfast & Networking

9:00-9:30am: EVENT BEGINS: Opening Remarks – Kara Bixby, Evaluation Director, WithInsight LLC

9:30-9:45am: Break and Transition

9:45-11:30am – Individual Workshops

Workshop 1 – A Renewed Approach to Strategic Evaluation

Workshop 2 – Bringing Stakeholders to the Table: Using Data Placemats for Participatory Analysis

11:30am-12:00pm- Networking & Connections

12:00pm - Event Concludes


Individual Workshop Information

Workshop 1 - A Renewed Approach to Strategic Evaluation

Description:

Is your organization feeling the evaluation fatigue or wondering if all of the data work is worth it? This workshop will help bring energy to your organization’s evaluation efforts and demonstrate the value of evaluation and data in achieving your mission. The session will provide an overview of evaluation and evaluation planning to provide a common language for your staff. We will discuss the various types of evaluation and how to select the best type based on your organization’s needs. Using Dr. Susan Kenny Stevens’ nonprofit lifecycle model, we will explore how an organization’s lifecycle stage should influence its approach to evaluation.

During the session, we will also provide strategies to generate buy-in with your team and bring new life to traditional evaluation tools. You will have the opportunity to learn about the power of an evaluation philosophy and take back a process to develop one with your own organization. Finally, we will show how traditional evaluation tools like logic models can be used to energize and mobilize your staff.

Target Audience

Individuals who are interested in taking on new evaluation work in their organizations or for organizations who need to rethink their approach to evaluation

Presenter

Kara Bixby is co-owner and evaluation director at WithInsight, bringing expertise in program evaluation, data analysis and quality improvement. She is passionate about evaluation capacity building, helping others leverage the power of data to learn and improve their work. Kara has trained and coached hundreds of nonprofit professionals to strategically use data for continuous improvement. She has a Master of Public Policy degree from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, with a focus on evaluation and education policy. Prior to WithInsight, Kara served as the Director of Research & Evaluation at the Saint Paul Public Schools Foundation and as a Senior Evaluation Specialist at Minneapolis Public Schools. Kara believes that when done well, evaluation can give voice to participants, empower staff to learn and develop their skills, and change systems to become equitable and effective.



Workshop 2 - Bringing Stakeholders to the Table: Using Data Placemats for Participatory Analysis

Description

How do you engage stakeholders in a process of reflecting on data in a way that is respectful, collaborative, and, quite frankly, not boring? A common framework for program evaluation is the “data inquiry cycle”: Plan, Collect, Analyze, Disseminate, and Act – the last two steps are critical but often the most difficult for nonprofits. Traditionally, data is shared in a narrative report, full of charts and graphs that are interpreted by the writer, perhaps even earning the dubious designation of “TL;DR” (“too long; didn’t read”). Narrative reports have their place for a particular set of circumstances, but are often not the best way to foster a learning environment and to maximize the value of the data being presented. An alternative is “Data Placemats,” a tool for data sharing and discussion that fosters participatory analysis.

In this training, participants first learn about “Data Placemats:” what they are and how to make them. Then, they will have an opportunity to engage in a small group hands-on activity to begin planning and designing placemats that are relevant to their work. Next, as data placemats have both a data visualization and a facilitative component, participants will explore how to lead a productive, thoughtful, and useful meeting using them as a tool. Participants will also learn how context, interpretations, and implications generated by meeting participants can be used to inform a final reporting product and to identify new questions for ongoing quality improvement and evaluation. Participants will again have an opportunity in small groups to practice using data placemats.

Target Audience

Those who are responsible for bringing data to stakeholders for discussion at their organizations.

Presenter

Laura Beals, Ph.D. is currently the Director of the Department of Evaluation and Learning at JF&CS. Her team manages the agency's client-level data for performance monitoring and evaluation, including the administration and implementation of the agency’s electronic client management system. She has written, presented, and taught about a variety of topics including evaluation in nonprofit organizations, technology for evaluation, data visualization, social network analysis, participatory data analysis with data placemats, and quality presentations. Prior to joining JF&CS in 2012, Laura worked as the Manager for Research, Evaluation, and Technology at Connected Beginnings Training Institute, a professional development training institute for early care and education providers. Recently, Laura was an adjunct lecturer at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, teaching “Evaluation for Managers,” a core course in the Social Impact MBA program. Laura completed her Ph.D. and M.A. at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University and she graduated summa cum laude from the College of Engineering at Tufts University.

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MetroWest Regional Transit Authority

15 Blandin Avenue

Framingham, MA 01760

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