Partnerships and Evaluation

Contribution by Jim Myers, MSW, NLCC Language Evaluator

During recent coaching calls with NLCC grantees, we have seen an increase in the discussion regarding how to sustain projects post-grant. Some of the discussions about sustainability have focused on developing new partnerships and/or strengthening existing partnerships. Being mindful of NLCC grantee’s desire to form and/or strengthen partnerships, this post offers a basic suggested evaluation approach to assess the effectiveness of your partnerships.

In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published Fundamentals of Evaluating Partnerships, which is a useful document detailing evaluation approaches to assess strengths and weaknesses of partnerships. Though the focus of the evaluation guide is on assessing health-related partnerships, the document offers useful evaluation questions and suggested activities for assessing partnerships that are transferable to language acquisition/retention partnerships.

Some basic evaluation questions and activities based on the CDC’s guide are offered below to stimulate your thinking about assessing your partnerships. A full table can be found in Appendix 1 of the CDC guide. The link to the PDF was provided earlier in the article and is in the resource cited that follows the table. We’ll also post the guide to the resources under evaluation. Good luck with your language acquisition/retention efforts!

Partnership Evaluation Questions & Activities
Evaluation QuestionsEvaluation Activities
Is there adequate partnership representation from organizations for your language efforts? Is there a method for identifying partner membership gaps?Review processes for recruiting and placing members in the partnership.
Are partnership meetings successful, e.g., productive, focused, and effective?Conduct participant evaluations after meetings to assess meeting processes, participation, expectations, leadership, etc.
Track measures such as the number of meetings and number of organizations representing priority populations that participate.
Is the partnership operating successfully? How well have the goals of the partnership been defined and communicated?
Are the roles and responsibilities of leaders and members clear?
Are partners knowledgeable of group process and program priorities?
Is communication efficient and timely?
Is the partnership mutually beneficial to partners?
How could partners’ needs and priorities be better met?
Are the partners satisfied with the functioning, progress, and leadership of the partnership?
Is the partnership on track to accomplish its goals and objectives?
Conduct interviews to determine partners’ awareness of and commitment to goals, roles, and communication processes, and recognition of how their participation fits into the larger plan.
Conduct quarterly reviews of accomplishments.
Review meeting minutes for actions and decisions.
Conduct a satisfaction/needs assessment for identifying the effectiveness of the partnership and identifying methods for improving the partnership (assessment could be completed by surveys, focus groups, and/or interviews).

Resource cited:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “Fundamentals of Evaluating Partnerships.” 2008. Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Evaluation Basics Guide Series. Document. 15 April 2021.