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From program evaluation to outreach and engagement

Working on and completing the program evaluation assignment for Emerge MA was an incredible way to gain an extensive understanding of the organization’s operations and its direct impact on participants.

For the organization, this assignment exposed areas for improvement, mainly in logistics and planning of trainings (some participants felt the trainings were too long and hard to balance following a work week and family obligations). Yet, many participants felt this was the best way to learn the information in the allotted six-month timeframe and expressed sincere gratitude to the experience and knowledge of trainers, as well as the flexibility and effective communication offered by the executive director.

The evaluation document I created is structured in such a way that lists the most prominent responses first to help readers grasp the gist or theme surrounding a particular question. If a reader wants the full set of responses from a question(s), s/he can simply read the additional comments listed regardless if they are recurring or not.

Again, the significance of this program evaluation project is tied to Emerge MA’s desire to revamp its material and training process, and the organization is doing so by assembling a Curriculum Committee composed of experts in the field from various political and private entities. Specifically, the document I amassed is meant to be used by committee members in their assessment of past, current, and future program operations. The Curriculum Committee is scheduled to meet three times in the next few months, and a facet of my work with the nonprofit is to gather all relevant training resources in preparation for these meetings.

Each meeting will focus on specific topics, such as fundraising, public speaking, campaign finance, etc. For example, the first committee meeting is next week and will target campaign planning, program structure, politics and diversity, and novel to the program (coming up with a capstone project for participants).

Designing a capstone project as an element of the Emerge MA curriculum is a completely new idea and was largely conceived through alumnae feedback. When asked what they would like added to the Emerge curriculum, many alumnae suggested a capstone project where each woman could leave the program with her own fully formed campaign plan.

While Emerge MA assigns homework to women during their training, the organization has never required a culminating project to reflect the progress of participants’ learning or candidacy growth. The purpose of the capstone is to have women structure an actual campaign that they could build on in and out of the classroom, and to treat it as a living document that they can work on as part of their coursework and homework.

Graduating the program with a written campaign plan would undoubtedly further set these women up for success in running and winning a position as elected officials due to the sense of immediate direction that is offered by such strategic and deliberate planning.

In addition to my curriculum committee functions, I have also begun working on alumnae outreach and engagement. Thus far, I have drafted and sent out a monthly alumnae email as well as emails to each alumnae class encouraging them to join the organization’s rising alumnae committee. The goal is to obtain representation from each class. We had our first alumnae committee meeting Tuesday night, July 18, and it was encouraging to see how excited women are to connect and engage with their peers to expand and build their network.

The executive director and chair of the committee made it clear that they want the group to be action-oriented, leaving each meeting with a set of next steps, and to urge each member to take up a project that contributes to the committee’s overarching goals of scheduling more networking events, providing content for monthly alumnae updates, or tracking alumnae election results. Everyone left this initial meeting with a task, so I would say the committee is off to a promising start!

 

Published On: July 20, 2017 |
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