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MIE & La RED TIGs Week: Community Engagement in Evaluation by Grisel Robles-Schrader
American Evaluation Association (AEA) American Evaluation Association (AEA)
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Washington , DC
Friday, August 09, 2019

Hi I’m Grisel (pronounced Gruh-cell) Robles-Schrader, Director of Evaluation, Stakeholder-Academic Resource Panels (ShARPs), and Director of the Applied Practice Experience at Northwestern University. I am also co-chair of the Latinx Responsive Evaluation Discourse (La RED) TIG.
Community engagement evaluation creates “processes for many people in a community to bring their experience, knowledge and dreams to shape the evaluation and, thus, the outcomes of the work” (Building the Field of Community Engagement and Babler, 2015). 
Engagement strategies can be utilized to bring together community stakeholders and evaluators to develop, implement, analyze, and disseminate evaluation activities. It’s important to recognize, however, that engagement activities fall along a continuum. In the diagram below, strategies that are much more meaningful and mutually beneficial are those along the right-hand side where shared leadership, decision-making, involvement are applied, fostering trust and communication (CDC, 2011).
Inform, Consult, Involve, Collaborate, Empower diagram
Outreach, Consult, Involve, Collaborate, Shared Leadership table
Community stakeholder engagement helps evaluators:
    • Develop approaches and data collection tools that go beyond “one-size fits all”
    • Minimize and/or avoid pitfalls
    • Promote buy-in which can support achieving evaluation goals
    • Build stakeholder and evaluator capacity – so that we all walk away having learned something new
Tensions arise when community stakeholder perspectives are not taken into account. As an example, when working with Hispanic/Latin@/Latinx communities tensions arise when:
  • When we assume all Latinx people have the same lived experience.
  •  When we assume all Latinx people speak Spanish.
  •  When we assume all languages (such as Spanish) use the same dialects. Depending on the context, the same word can mean very different things.
  •  When we don’t take into account the context we are working within.
These same issues arise when we assume shared experiences or perspectives based on other characteristics such as age, gender identity, access, religion, community by geography, and so on.
Community engagement strategies can produce evaluation efforts that are more relevant to diverse community stakeholders, evaluators and funders. Recommendations are more likely to be adopted by these groups, when sufficient time and effort has been dedicated to nurturing an engaged approach.
Rad Resources:
Wondering how to get started or just looking for new ideas? Check out these resources for more information and tools on how concrete ways to engage diverse community stakeholders.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Multiethnic Issues in Evaluation (MIE) and Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse (La RED) TIGs Week with our colleagues in both the MIE and La RED Topical Interest Groups. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from MIE or  La RED TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

About AEA

The American Evaluation Association is an international professional association and the largest in its field. Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products and organizations to improve their effectiveness. AEA’s mission is to improve evaluation practices and methods worldwide, to increase evaluation use, promote evaluation as a profession and support the contribution of evaluation to the generation of theory and knowledge about effective human action. For more information about AEA, visit www.eval.org.

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