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Evaluating Complexity

While evaluation has traditionally focused on assessing programmatic impact according to pre-determined indicators, a new approach is needed for evaluating complex initiatives, as well as initiatives operating in complex environments where progress is not linear, predictable, or controllable. 9 propositions can help evaluators navigate the unique characteristics of complex systems, improve their evaluation practice, and better serve the needs of the social sector.





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Activating the Power of Place: A Case Study of Market Creek

This article tells the story of a placed-based initiative to develop well-being and wealth in the historically underserved Diamond Neighborhood in San Diego, and discusses the place-based philosophy of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and the foundation’s motivation for place-based work.





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Getting to Results: A Tool and Lessons from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s K-12 Education Portfolio

The Annie E. Casey Foundation developed a exible but rigorous “results framework” tool that helped focus its investments and choose grantees that shared its aims by dening success, specifying results, tracking progress, and aligning its work. The framework includes an understanding of population and program accountability and lays out overarching categories for thinking about results: impact, inuence, and leverage. This paper described how the tool was developed and tested with grantees and shares lessons learned for other philanthropies in the eld of education.







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Beyond the Grant: How the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Went Beyond Grantmaking to Contribute to a Major Early Childhood Initiative

The W. K. Kellogg Foundation’s SPARK initiative sought to link the pre-kindergarten and school worlds as a way to position vulnerable children for greater success in the early grades. The initiative was also the foundation’s first attempt at a large scale initiative with an explicit changemaker role. This article describes the challenges for the foundation of adopting this approach.





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Going Deeper: Can Investigative Reporters Add Value to Assessment and Evaluation?

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supplemented its standard evaluation approach by engaging professional journalists to elaborate on evaluation findings. The resulting reports are more direct, even critical, than any prior Knight Foundation attempt to evaluate and assess. It produced deeper looks into the intent and outcome of major initiatives, analyzing and addressing flaws in the theories of change underlying initiatives.