Youth Development Tools

Evaluating Programs For Youth

It is not easy to evaluate how young people are impacted by programs in which they participate. There are many other factors in their lives, adolescence and young adulthood are dynamic stages of life, and results may not be apparent in the short term. Evaluation can also be daunting for programs without specialized expertise. Recognizing all these challenges, this section provides some basic guidance on how to evaluate programs as well as some sample tools that can be used to measure core elements of youth development, such as self-esteem, which can be harder to measure.

EMpower Tools for Monitoring And Evaluation

EMpower – The Emerging Markets Foundation with Bonnie Shepard, Consultant, 2017

Monitoring and evaluating youth-focused programs can seem/be challenging for many reasons such as:

  • Adolescence is a time of growth and change anyhow so it may not be clear what is due to program participation.
  • Young people are highly mobile so it may be hard to do follow-up
  • The benefits of program participation may not be evident immediately but longer term, and thus harder for most programs to measure.
  • Organizations may not have funding or specialized staff capacity for evaluation.

Despite challenges, evaluating and deliberate learning from program experience is vital to understand if they are making a difference to young people. Programs and funders need to understand if desired changes for youth take place, and to adjust accordingly. Effective advocacy for shifts in policy or resources requires data. Solid program experience and evidence of results is needed before contemplating scaling youth-focused approaches.

Effective monitoring and evaluation is built into programs at the beginning by having a clear program model, outlining key assumptions and expected results (a “theory of change”). Therefore, EMpower discusses planned monitoring and evaluation with grantees during proposal submission. To assist with such and to de-mystify evaluation, we developed user-friendly tools and guidance on specific aspects of youth development that many EMpower grantee partners seek to measure – see specific links by topic area below.

Basic guide to program evaluation

EMpower – The Emerging Markets Foundation (with Julie Solomon, consultant), 2010

This guide is intended to provide some basic definitions, tools, and methods related to program evaluation. Topics include: reasons to evaluate your work, types of evaluation, and timing of an evaluation. The guide also includes tools for collecting data as well as tips on conducting focus groups, surveys, and in-depth interviews.

A Toolkit for Monitoring and Evaluating Programs For Adolescent Girls

EMpower – The Emerging Markets Foundation, 2016

This toolkit was borne out of EMpower’s work with our seven grantee partners in Maharashtra who are a part of the Learning Community. Over the past two years, our grantee partners shared their challenges, insights and experiences during the Learning Community and helped in bringing together, promising practices and best strategies to develop tools for effective monitoring and evaluation of adolescent girls programs.