Personalized Learning School Design & Replication

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Program Effectiveness Evaluation

Evaluation of Instructional Innovation (i2) Grant Program

Client: The Riordan Foundation

“Cat and her team bring a unique perspective with their experience in education and foundation work. This knowledge helped The Riordan Foundation evaluate its impact and identify areas of opportunity around metrics. The CA Group is also straightforward, thoughtful, and timely with their work, making it an enjoyable process.” -Jessica Flores, President, The Riordan Foundation

The Challenge

The Riordan Foundation seeks to provide students with access to high quality education that will enable them to be successful in the 21st century. In pursuit of this goal, the foundation implemented the Instructional Innovation grant program, which funds Catholic, district, and charter school projects that aim to improve instruction in innovative ways. After two years of grantmaking, the foundation was eager to evaluate the effectiveness of the program, including the grant making process and the level of each grantee’s programmatic impact. However, due to a lack of internal capacity, the team was unable to conduct the necessary oversight and accountability functions, including conducting annual oversight visits and administering annual reports. In addition, the diversity of the grantee funded projects (e.g. 1:1 technology integration, community service) and the foundation’s flexible approach to grantee goals and measures contributed to this challenge.

Our Solution

The Riordan Foundation brought in CA Group to conduct an evaluation of the Instructional Innovation grant program and measure its programmatic impact. CA Group examined every aspect of the program, from a thorough review of the application process to conducting interviews with each grantee to assess the impact and sustainability of the program.

CA Group developed a methodology to assess each grantee – as well as the grant program overall – on a variety of qualitative measures, national best practice, and grantee self-reported findings. Additionally, CA Group aggregated qualitative data from grantee interviews to inform key questions posed by the foundation. Based on these findings, CA Group developed recommendations for future grants and the corresponding application and reporting process. In addition, CA Group identified grantee areas of notable practice and challenges and included recommendations on how to share areas of best practices or aide a struggling grantee.

Ultimately, CA Group prepared a 25-page concept paper detailing the findings of the evaluation as well as a two-page summary of resultant conclusions and recommendations for presentation to the Riordan Foundation board of directors. In addition, CA Group created simple and usable contract management tools to track grantee program effectiveness. These tools included a contract management calendar and oversight and accountability dashboard.

Outcomes

The Riordan Foundation will use CA Group evaluation findings to improve the grant making and accountability process and increase the level of grantee programmatic impact by:

  • Hiring CA Group to develop an oversight visit process and train the foundation vice president on conducting oversight visits;

  • Using the contract management tools, oversight and accountability dashboard, and contract management calendar during the 2015-16 grant cycle; and

  • Using the “notable and challenged” grantees identified in the evaluation to guide upcoming grantee conversations and to illustrate the challenges and successes of program at the annual board meeting.

CA Group Team Members

  • Cat Alexander
  • Jamie Prijatel
  • Kirsten McKone