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ACT for Youth at American Evaluation Association conference

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Powers, Purington, and Maley

Powers, Purington, and Maley

This October, staff from the ACT for Youth Center of Excellence participated in the annual conference for the American Evaluation Association held in Denver, CO. For the conference, Jane Powers, Mandy Purington, and Mary Maley organized a panel on the theme of building capacity to strengthen youth programming through the use of evaluation findings. The ACT team described how the Center of Excellence has been supporting the implementation of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs. Through case examples, they illustrated how implementation data are summarized and made accessible to program staff, and how these data help staff reflect on evaluation findings and identify ways to improve fidelity and quality. Colleagues from the University of Wisconsin joined the panel to present on their work in Madison with community program staff, educators, and youth.

In a demonstration session, the ACT team described the three-phase needs and resources assessment process they developed to identify gaps in local supports for expectant and parenting young people. Their approach includes a community partner brainstorm phase, a key informant interview process, and youth focus groups with expectant and parenting young people. They described how the information gained from this process led to action planning for each of the participating communities.

Finally, Jane Powers served as a discussant on a panel organized by Abe Wandersman addressing the issue of organizational readiness for implementing innovations. The three papers in this session focused on how to assess, build, and evaluate organizational readiness.

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The Military Projects conducts training for Army Reserve leadership

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On April 15, 16, and 17, the BCTR’s Military Projects and the Cornell Office for Research on Evaluation (CORE) hosted a three-day training program on evaluation capacity building for the leadership of the Army Reserve Family Programs (ARFP). The group attending consisted of 44 Headquarters, Regional, and command support level staff who are responsible for the management and delivery of training and family support programs throughout the United States and its territories. The training served as the launch of a two-year partnership beginning April 1st to develop performance metrics and measures of effectiveness for the family support programs that the Army Reserve provides for all Reserve soldiers and their families. This work is funded by an award through United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Army Reserve. In addition, the partnership will develop a standardized needs assessment to gather community input on the needs of Reserve soldiers and family members which will be used by each Family Programs Center to prepare for their tri-annual accreditation review.

During their three days on campus, the group began the process of developing pathway models for their programs and services. These models will be finalized during a one-day follow up training in Boston in August. During the time between now and August, concept mapping will be conducted with a large group of program stakeholders to assure that the models incorporate the broadest range of perspectives of those who have a vital interest in the program. Evaluation plans will be developed from the finalized models and outcome metrics will be selected from the evaluation plans for piloting. As outcome metrics are validated they will be incorporated into the ARFP’s client tracking system to be used for ongoing monitoring and evaluation. The work begun in Ithaca in April will serve as the basis for a long and careful process to develop valid and credible measures of these critical programs and services.


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Military Projects renewed to evaluate U.S. Army’s Family Programs

(0) Comments  |   Tags: Brian Leidy,   evaluation,   Marney Thomas,   military,   Military Projects,  

The Military Projects within the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research was recently awarded $267,372 by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Defense under Agreement No. 2011-48746-31000 to conduct program evaluation and needs assessment for Family Programs in the United States Army.

This is a renewal of work begun more than ten years ago that includes the development of performance and outcome metrics to be used by Family Programs across the Army and assisting local Army installations as they carry out needs assessment in preparation for their tri-annual accreditation process.  The Family Programs in the Army provide education, counseling, and support to help military families deal with the unique stressors of military life. Military families typically experience lengthy family separations, frequent moves, and isolation from family support networks while serving in locations across the country and overseas.

Brian Leidy and Marney Thomas

This work will be led by Brian Leidy and Marney Thomas, both Senior Extension associates at the center and will be carried out between September 1, 2012 and August 31, 2013.

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Talks at Twelve: Monica Hargraves, Thursday, March 15, 2012

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The Evaluation Partnerships: A Systems Approach to Program Evaluation
Monica Hargraves, Manager of Evaluation for Extension and Outreach, CORE

Thursday, March 15, 2012
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

The Cornell Office for Research on Evaluation (CORE), led by Professor William Trochim, has been conducting and applying research on a new approach to evaluation planning and evaluation capacity-building. CORE’s approach is grounded in an evolutionary, “systems” view of programs – basically, that programs are systems nested within organizations which are nested within larger entities and so on, and that they evolve and change over time. Simple as these principles may seem, this systems approach has significant implications for how to conduct evaluations. CORE has developed a Protocol for this approach to evaluation and has used it in “Evaluation Partnerships” with more than 50 Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) programs as well as a number of outreach programs at research centers across the US. Monica Hargraves leads the facilitation of CORE’s Evaluation Partnerships with CCE. She will introduce the Protocol and talk about how it has worked in practice within Extension programs, the impacts it has had on program staff and their work, and its implications for building the research base for programs and their evaluation.

Monica Hargraves has a Ph.D. in economics and spent the early part of her career at Brown University and in the Research Department of the International Monetary Fund. Her growing interest in more applied, community-based work precipitated a significant career shift. In 1998 she joined the staff of Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, where she ran volunteer and educational outreach programs and later moved into organizational roles focused on valuing the work of Extension, internal reporting systems, strategic planning, and evaluation. She joined CORE’s research team in 2008, and works with Extension organizations and programs across NYS to build capacity for evaluation. Her research and applied interests involve integrating evaluation into the on-going work of program management and program development at all levels of the system, and improving the understanding and ultimately the valuation of Extension work.

Lunch will be served.  This event is free and open to all.
Metered parking is available across Plantations Rd. in The Plantations lot.

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Talks at Twelve: Margaret Johnson, Thursday, February 23, 2012

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Building Strong Evaluation Policy in Organizations
Margaret Johnson, Policy Analysis & Management and Finger Lakes Center for Law and Social Policy

Thursday, February 23, 2012
12:00 - 1:00 PM
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

Lunch will be served. This talk is open to all.  Metered parking is available across Plantations Rd. in The Plantations lot.

To generate a set of relevant types of evaluation policy for the US federal government context, Margaret Johnson conducted a survey of 600 members of the American Evaluation Association in 2009. Participants were asked to brainstorm examples of evaluation policy and then sort and rate them. Results were analyzed using a concept mapping technique and then used to create an evaluation policy inventory instrument. Her presentation will focus on the evaluation policy inventory instrument, with step-by-step instructions for its use in organizations.

Margaret A. Johnson, PhD, is a January 2012 graduate of the Department of Policy Analysis and Management (PAM) with a focus on program evaluation and a special interest in helping organizations develop sound evaluation policies. Current work in the Department of PAM includes two Cooperative Extension-funded outreach and research projects: one to develop and evaluate a curriculum to teach older teens about the health care/health insurance system, and another to investigate how unmarried parents make decisions about child custody. She is also an associate of the Finger Lakes Center for Law and Social Policy, which provides program evaluation and consulting services to state and local governments and other nonprofit organizations.

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