GETTING STARTED
About This Toolkit

We created this toolkit because…

Grassroots youth programs frequently need, or want, to have their programs evaluated. But it can be hard for program staff to truly understand and measure outcomes and articulate the impact of their programs to their stakeholders – including parents, funders, and youth themselves.

 

Before proceeding with an evaluation, these program stakeholders may be unsure about how to conduct an evaluation and are likely to have many important questions. These questions may include:

What do we want to learn from an evaluation of our program?
How can we engage youth and other important stakeholders?
What are some engaging ways to collect data and stories?
What can we do to make sense of all the data we have collected?
What can I do to inspire my team to improve our program for next time?
How can we share the real story of our program with our diverse stakeholders?

If your program has similar questions, this Evaluation Toolkit is for you!

We have brought together resources that can support you to conduct an evaluation that moves beyond just ‘proving’ the worth of your program to funders to also ‘improving’ your program to better support youth wellbeing. These resources will help you in five important areas:

01. Understand your capacity to undertake an evaluation journey
02. Use a program logic model to help you develop a better understanding of the relationships that exist between the different elements that make up your program (ex: inputs, activities, outcomes)
03. Evaluate the implementation of your program through process evaluation, by documenting the work being done by your organization
04. Evaluate program outcomes, through outcome evaluation, demonstrating how successful your program is in making a positive change

For more about this Toolkit and YouthREX, check out the info below!

Who is this Toolkit for?

This Evaluation Toolkit is designed to support grassroots youth programs that are working hard to improve youth wellbeing in Ontario communities. The Toolkit is especially developed for youth sector program staff who have limited experience with evaluation.

The Toolkit includes a step-by-step “how-to” guide that will support your program to develop an evaluation plan, implement it and use the findings to strengthen your program and promote the wellbeing of your youth participants.

The Toolkit is designed to guide you through the process of evaluating your program. Throughout the document, you will find action steps, questions you can use to guide your evaluation, checklists, as well as links to online resources that can be used to enhance and increase your learning about evaluation.

For programs that have the resources to hire an external evaluator, the Toolkit will provide you with the foundational knowledge you need to work collaboratively with your external evaluator and participate fully in asking and answering questions about your program.

Although the primary audience for this Toolkit is those who are working in, and stakeholders of grassroots youth programs in Ontario, this toolkit will also be useful to other grassroots programs who are interested in understanding the impact of their work on program participants

How is the Toolkit organized?

The Toolkit is a practical tool that summarizes and organizes the key elements of evaluation into a step-by-step guide for evaluating a youth program.

This Evaluation Toolkit has four main sections:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Discovery Phase
  3. Action Phase
  4. Legacy Phase

Section One, Getting Started provides you with an overview of why we created this Evaluation Toolkit – who we created it for, how it is organized and who created it. This section also introduces you to how we understand evaluation in the youth sector and provides you with an overview of the evaluation context for which we developed the Toolkit.

The next three sections: Discovery Phase, Action Phase and Legacy Phase are organized around YouthREX’s Framework for Evaluating Youth Wellbeing. This three-phase seven-step framework offers youth programs a simple step by step guide for developing an evaluation plan, carrying it out and using the findings to improve their programs and promote the wellbeing of their youth participants. Each of the seven steps starts with an overview, key actions for accomplishing the objectives of the step, hot tips, Q & A with our Evaluation Dino, downloadable tools / templates / checklists and multi-media resources to learn more about the evaluation activities that the step focuses on.

About YouthREX

This Evaluation Toolkit was developed by the Youth Research and Evaluation eXchange (YouthREX) – a provincial project based at the School of Social Work York at York University with five regional hubs in universities across Ontario. The Ministry of Children and Youth Services primarily funds YouthREX in addition to extensive in-kind contributions from the five partner universities – York University, Carleton University, Laurentian University, Lakehead University and King’s College at the University of Western Ontario.

YouthREX’s mission is to make research evidence and evaluation practices accessible and relevant to Ontario’s grassroots youth sector through knowledge mobilization, capacity building and evaluation leadership!

YouthREX’s vision is an Ontario where shared knowledge is transformed into positive impact for all youth. Our mission is to make research evidence and evaluation accessible and relevant to Ontario’s youth sector through knowledge mobilization, capacity building and evaluation leadership.

To learn more about YouthREX, including our team members, please click here: www.youthrex.com

 

This Toolkit is not …

Evaluation is more complex than what we have provided here. This Evaluation Toolkit is just a beginning and not the final word on evaluation. It is an introduction to get you started.

Each of the seven steps has a ‘Learn More’ section that recommends carefully chosen resources to deepen your understanding of that section.

Finally, this Evaluation Toolkit is not a finished, static product but a dynamic, living document that we will keep updating. Do come back often and check out new updates!