Building on decades of experience in policy and advocacy evaluation and the study of complex social change, CEI’s evaluation work focuses on power and power building as a meaningful lever for advancing racial equity and justice.
Specifically, we work with efforts aimed at creating a more inclusive democracy by building the political and representational power of people in communities who long have been the targets of systemic exclusion and discrimination. We see ourselves as co-conspirators with the many other evaluators and foundation staff who also share this purpose.
We partner with foundations on evaluation, but also work directly with intersectional social movements and nonprofit networks to track change and deepen learning.
Much of our evaluation work is done in partnership with other evaluators in the sector who share a common interest in power and a commitment to Equitable Evaluation Framework™ principles.
Recognizing that power is a social determinant of health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), through the Supporting Community Power to Build Health Equity (Community Power) initiative, is centering community power-building organizations (CPBOs) as key actors in advancing health equity and racial justice. This work aims to achieve health equity by building the social, economic, and political power of people in communities who long have been the targets of systemic exclusion and discrimination. With expanded power, communities impacted by structural inequities can act together to address the root causes of those inequities.
The Local Base Building and Birth Justice components of the Community Power initiative recognize the critical role of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPoC)-led base building and birth justice organizations in the South. Because power building and systems change to produce more equitable outcomes is necessarily long-term and emergent, strengthening the capacity of these organizations is crucial to achieving and sustaining transformational change.
Social Insights Research (Social Insights) and the Center for Evaluation Innovation are partnering on the evaluation of these two elements of the Community Power initiative. As a team, we promote and utilize a perspective that considers the intersections of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and other positionalities. We strive to consistently incorporate strategies to mitigate the impact of systems of oppression—including within the processes of evaluation itself. This means sharing power with those most impacted by an issue and deliberately centering their stories, questions, goals, and analyses.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is funding two projects intended to support state and federal advocacy infrastructure on Early Head Start/Head Start (EHS/HS) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). National early childhood advocates are working with selected states on building or strengthening state coalitions that are inclusive of families and communities, and on developing equitable state-level policy agendas.
The Center for Evaluation Innovation is partnering with the Center on the Ecology of Early Development (CEED) at Boston University in the Wheelock College of Education and Human Development to evaluate these two projects. The evaluation is formative, designed to inform the two projects as they unfold, to help set them up for future advocacy success.