Strategic Learning and Evaluation
The Hartford Foundation's Strategic Learning and Evaluation informs action on our Outcome Areas, so that we can achieve greater progress toward our efforts to dismantle structural racism and improve social and economic mobility for Black and Latinx residents of Greater Hartford.
Our desired outcomes
- Strengthen regional data, research and evaluation ecosystem
- Improve region’s actionable data that allows for actionable disaggregation and analysis by geography, income and race/ethnicity
- Improve data sharing and integration in Hartford and the Greater Hartford Region
- Improve cultural responsiveness and equity in evaluation and learning practice
Research for the Greater Hartford region
The Foundation is committed to the availability of high-quality, impartial research about our region and state to inform action on issues critical to the region and the Foundation's priorities, strategies and operations.
We commission and support surveys to assess perceptions of key stakeholders and examine topic areas supported by our responsive and donor-advised grantmaking to learn whether and how Foundation grants are meeting the needs of our communities. Current examples include:
The DataHaven Community Wellbeing Survey (DCWS), believed to be the largest of its type in the United States, produces reliable data about life satisfaction, physical and mental health, neighborhood conditions, economic opportunity, and civic engagement at the local level. Results from the 2015 and 2018 surveys can be found here. Information from the survey is also included in the Greater Hartford Community Wellbeing Index 2019, which collects and analyzes over 100 sources of national, state, and local data supplemented by interviews with tens of thousands of randomly-selected adults statewide— including 7,000 representative adults in the Greater Hartford area.
In the aftermath of the hurricanes Maria and Irma, the Foundation supported a survey to better understand the long-term impact of displacement on the Greater Hartford region through the University of Connecticut’s El Instituto: Institute for Latina/o Caribbean and Latin American Studies and the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College. Results from the survey will be available in spring 2018. The survey instrument is available at: http://bit.ly/displacementsurvey.
In May and June of 2017, The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) conducted a survey of the Harford Foundation for Public Giving grantees, achieving a 68 percent response rate. The memo below outlines the key findings and recommendations from the Foundation’s Grantee Perception Report. The report contains benchmarking data to allow readers to interpret perceptions in light of the Foundation’s goals, strategy and context.
RESEARCH ON CRITICAL AND EMERGING ISSUES
Examples of research the Hartford Foundation has supported (either whole or in part) in the past include:
This study will examine outcomes and implementation from seven schools using the community schools model in Hartford from the 2009–2010 to 2018–2019 school years.
Launched in the fall of 2018, the study conducted by TDC and DataArts sought to identify key challenges and opportunities for local arts and cultural organizations. The comprehensive study provides demographic and funding data on arts and cultural organizations in the Hartford region. This effort also included a workforce survey of local organizations in the field. Both the Hartford Foundation and the Connecticut Office of the Arts will use the results of this study to inform additional grant making and support strategies.
A report created for Community Partners in Action and funded by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
Research on ‘Project Choice,’ an integral part of the State of Connecticut’s response to the 1996 Sheff v. O’Neill school decision.
A feasibility study and implementation plan for housing rehabilitation initiative in North Hartford.
A study to identify companies in the region at all growth levels, including high-growth firms, companies experiencing slower sustained growth over time, and those firms not growing, but which may have the potential for growth in the future.
To identify best practices for working with "anchor institutions" on or near rapid transit to support transit oriented development, development of supply chain businesses and creation of new employment opportunities.
To provide data on home-based providers - licensed family child care providers and kith and kin providers in greater Hartford. Home-based child care providers are part of the larger network of providers across the state of Connecticut but they are often considered in ways that stand apart from center-based facilities.
Monitoring Our Progress
At the Hartford Foundation, we promote evaluation practices that enable us to gauge progress in our outcome areas. We regularly commission evaluations of major programs and strategic initiatives.
In addition, the Hartford Foundation provides resources to nonprofits to help build their evaluation capacity, through the Nonprofit Support Program. More about these resources, which include learning opportunities, communities of practice and grants for evaluation, can be found here.
Evaluations and Evaluation briefs
Evaluation briefs describe the goals of major programs and strategic initiatives, what we have learned through monitoring and evaluation, key conclusions and examples of impact. Questions about the reports and briefs can be directed to the Research and Evaluation Unit at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Greater Hartford Reentry Welcome Center (GH-RWC) officially opened its doors on September 17, 2018. This report presents process evaluation findings from the first year of implementation. Its purpose is to identify what is and what is not working well and to provide strategic recommendations for areas needing improvement and to leverage emergent promising practices. This is the first in a series of reports for a three-year formative evaluation comprising process and outcome findings.
The Community Funds evaluation will inform the ongoing implementation and development of the Greater Together Community Funds and assess the extent to which the Community Funds have fulfilled their purpose to support the community in taking ownership around the needs in their town, encourage broad and inclusive civic engagement, anchor the Hartford Foundation in each town.
This evaluation will document the first three years of the implementation of the Reentry Welcome Center (RWC) – including the identification of what is and what is not working well, assessment of the extent to which participant outcomes are achieved, generation of recommendations for areas that need improvement and ways to leverage promising practices.
Hartford Community Schools (HCS) comprise a cohort of seven schools located throughout the city of Hartford. Since 2009, the schools’ transformation has been the shared undertaking of the Hartford Partnership for Student Success (HPSS) to improve student outcomes in select schools. More information on the Hartford Community Schools is here. Community Schools receive annual comprehensive evaluations, posted below.
The Foundation's education team worked with consultants from the Center for Policy and Assessment Development (CAPD) to develop outcomes that to monitor and report on progress. This evaluation focused on better understanding whether the approaches the Foundation is using are effective in helping our community partners ensure positive outcomes for our region's children and families. More on the education strategy can be found here.
In 2015, the Hartford Foundation provided support to nine collaborative efforts designed to develop viable career pathways for low-literacy and/or low-skilled adults. More information on the Career Pathways Initiative is here. A developmental evaluation of the initiative is currently underway.
General Operating Support
Unrestricted dollars support a nonprofit’s mission as a whole. The Hartford Foundation’s General Operating Support (GOS) grants help nonprofits enhance their infrastructure, respond to the needs of the community, take greater risks, and create more innovative programming.
Nonprofit Support Program
Nonprofit agencies are essential partners in creating strong communities. The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving fosters organizational development by providing a range of capacity building services to more than 200 nonprofits in Greater Hartford through the Nonprofit Support Program (NSP). As part of its commitment to continuous learning and improvement, the Nonprofit Support Program undergoes regular independent evaluations.
Small Agency Program
In 2016, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving launched the Small Agency Program with multiple components: capacity building, grant support, and convening for capacity-building organizations and representatives from small agencies. The Foundation contracted with Cross Sector Consulting to evaluate the Small Agency Program, which focused on documenting and assessing program services, implementation accomplishments and challenges, early program outcomes, and lessons learned about supporting small agencies.
Year 1 Progress Report Presentation
In December 2017, the Hartford Foundation awarded two-year grants to five agencies to participate in a Capital Region Early Childhood Collaboratives Network created to improve the school readiness and school success of young children birth to eight. The Network is intended to develop a regional early childhood blueprint, outline a plan of action for stakeholders, policymakers, and advocates, share in data collection and analysis activities, and increase the connection between the Network and CT Office of Early Childhood.
An evaluation of the Network conducted Victoria Dougherty Consulting is currently underway. The evaluation focuses on articulating realistic collective and individual outcomes in Network- and collaborative-level theories of change, assess the strength of the Network and progress toward its goals, assess how participation in the Network benefits the local work of collaboratives (e.g. engagement in early childhood practices, progress toward anticipated outcomes), and capture best practices and approaches in this effort.
Learning briefs provide data, strategies and examples of impact for specific issue areas. Briefs are shared with donors, nonprofits and staff to foster learning and information sharing about emerging issues.