Democratizing the data conversation through practical, accessible tools
Whether you are planning a program or seeking support for one, data is likely to be part of your process. It can help you to better understand your community’s needs, assess the implementation of your program, and document the impact of your work. But understanding what data to collect, how to collect it, and how to use it and communicate about it, can be challenging, especially when resources are limited. YDEKC’s Measurement Toolkit is designed to make data — and the processes that surround it — broadly accessible to youth development practitioners.
About the Toolkit
The Toolkit covers aspects of measurement and evaluation from the development of program logic models to the dissemination of evaluation results. The 60-plus tools within the toolkit are designed to provide concise information through presentations and tip sheets; enable self-assessment through checklists; and put theory into practice through worksheets and activities.
YDEKC created the Toolkit in 2016 to document and disseminate learnings from YDEKC’s Shared Measurement cohort, a group of 15 YDEKC member organizations that worked to advance measurement and evaluation practice in the sector. Over time, the Toolkit has grown and evolved to meet practical needs and to better reflect equity-oriented approaches to evaluation. In its current version, the toolkit employs three key equity strategies; It:
- Articulates and embeds a set of core values
- Focuses on systemic and structural issues
- Facilitates collaborative, participatory approaches
Using checklists to embed core values
The Toolkit incorporates a set of core values. YDEKC articulated these values in consultation with leaders in the youth development field. The values combine the underlying principles of youth development with the fundamental ethics of research and evaluation. They are as follows:
- Commitment to honest inquiry and ongoing organizational learning
- Respect for the dignity of children, youth, families, and communities
- Elevation of measurement and evaluation practices that advance racial equity
- Advancement of participatory approaches to the evaluation of youth programs
YDEKC has embedded these values throughout the Toolkit, and has used them to guide the Toolkit’s overall approach. Toolkit users can get started by assessing their own measurement and evaluation practice in accordance with core values using the checklists that accompany each section of the Toolkit.
Maintaining a focus on systems and structures
Evaluation in youth development conventionally focuses on individual-level outcomes. Since much of the work of the sector is equity-driven, evaluation often highlights disparities in outcomes between groups. We believe it is important to pay attention to the systems and structures that hold these disparities in place. Many tools in the Toolkit incorporate tips for thinking about structural and systemic factors. Examples include our Equitable Evaluation Guiding Questions, which includes prompts pertinent to all phases of the evaluation process, and our Root Cause Analysis Protocol, which helps to situation data in a broader context.
Facilitating collaboration and participation
Finally, the Toolkit by its very nature enables broader and more equitable participation in evaluation activities. Informational tools provide accessible grounding in aspects of evaluation practice, while practical tools enable collaboration. In addition to worksheets and templates, the Toolkit features data protocols designed to guide conversations about evaluation results and activity suggestions adapted from YDEKC workshops for internal use in youth development organizations.
Using the Toolkit
YDEKC’s Measurement Toolkit is fully and freely available online. You can use tools alone or in combination, and adapt them to suit the needs of a particular program or organization. We hope you find these tools useful, and welcome your suggestions and feedback!