As part of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, our staff are also on the faculty and instruction team at the school. This creates a fertile ground for students to engage in the work we do, and for us to tap into the new ways of thinking our graduate students bring to their projects. Courses such as PA5311 Program Evaluation have lended some extra evaluation capacity to our partners in the human services sector. 

These are selections from projects in the past semesters:

 
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Ramsey County Workforce Solutions

While the federal and state governments mandate collection of data on program implementation of social welfare programs, it is often difficult for local governments to assure that this information is useful to the local service providers with whom they work. This project designed a plan for assessing ways that data is communicated between the county and their nonprofit partners, to point to avenues for improvement. 

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Pope County Human Services

The Director of this rural county was interested in improving the alignment of her organization’s practices with the concepts of person-centered thinking and the state’s human services performance measures.  She commissioned the graduate student team to develop staff performance appraisals, guides for supervisors, and a questionnaire to gather information about how these programmatic and management tools were affecting daily practice. 

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Dakota County Mental Health

While there are a number of evidence-based training models in mental health, local governments might not have the information they need to assess whether or not they are having the desired impact on professionals receiving them.  This project designed a comprehensive way of assessing the change in knowledge about risk factors and assessment, and confidence of practitioners in responding to a mental health crisis. 

Big Brothers/ Big Sisters

This evaluation design supported the organization’s strategic planning process to provide tools for assessing the short-term outcomes experienced by both mentors (‘Bigs”) and mentees (“Littles”).  Using two surveys and providing a structured way to access administrative data from the schools, this project helps to inform the organization about its results. 

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Southwest Health and Human Services:
Adult Mental Health Case Management Program

The Southwest Minnesota Health and Human Services’ Adult Health Case Management Program provides targeted case management services for adults with serious and persistent mental illness and helps coordinate their care and services. In December 2015, SWHHS solicited assistance in developing effective tools to evaluate their Adult Health Case Management Program. Under the guidance of FSI staff, students from the PA5311 course adopted a utilization-focused approach and a formative evaluation design to develop a new survey tool that would help the organization and the program examine their effectiveness in meeting clients’ service needs. 

 
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Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency: YouthBuild Program

Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and Community Action Program for northeast Minnesota that oversees the YouthBuild program. YouthBuild provides at-risk youth paid work experience in construction while helping them earn a high school diploma or GED. YouthBuild program staff expressed interest in increasing their understanding of participants’ needs, understanding how the program meets those needs, and developing tools that would allow them to continually assess and improve their program. Under the guidance of FSI staff, students from the PA5311 course adopted a formative evaluation design to provide AEOA with a tool to continually assess and improve the YouthBuild program.

 


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