How to Learn What Worked - and Fix What Didn't - Through Effective Project Evaluation

In an atmosphere of ever-increasing competition for limited resources, the federal government is increasingly focused on investing in programs that generate evidence of effectiveness for educational innovations, and replicating and scaling those that are demonstrated to be successful. Federal grant programs now include more funds for evaluation and additional selection criteria centered on evaluation as the primary method for measuring project impact This emphasis on accountability and results is not limited to federal programs, however. Integrating evaluation into project strategy, improving the utility and effectiveness of evaluation data, and expanding the practice of culturally relevant evaluation to assess project impact are emerging trends in philanthropy as well (Council on Foundations, 2017). Given this context, effective project evaluations are crucial to competitive proposals across the spectrum of grantmaking organizations and speak directly to the GPC competency effective program and project design and development.

Effective project evaluations stem from the project planning process and aim to document success, elucidate underperforming project components, and inform future project plans. Identifying key performance metrics that both align with project activities and correspond to project outcomes allows for the development of data collection and analysis plans that create feedback loops for continuous improvement. Additionally, this mechanism facilitates the elevation of evidence-based best practices.

Intended for those with responsibilities for planning and writing proposals, monitoring compliance, or collecting and reporting project data, this session illustrates strategies for integrating evaluation into overall project plans, identifying challenges that impede progress, and using evaluation results to achieve project success. Appropriate for all levels and all sizes of grant seeking organizations.

GPCI Competencies Addressed:

Strategies for effective program and project design and development
Practices and services that raise the level of professionalism of grant developers

Becca Polar, GPC provides professional grant services to higher education clients throughout the US. Becca's expertise in the grants field spans more than 15 years and includes the entire grant lifecycle from inception to closeout. Her professional practice has grown to include private and foundation grants, strategic planning, facilitation, program and proposal design, project management, market analyses, and program evaluation.  

Sharla Trimm, GPC, CGMS has over 20 years of experience writing and managing grants for higher education, secondary schools, and non-profit organizations. As the Manager of the Ellucian Grants Services team, Sharla works with higher education institutions across the country to develop a robust grants strategy that aligns with institutional priorities. She has experience with a variety of grant programs, serves as an external evaluator, and is an experienced trainer in the grants field.