and Model for Community Programming and Evaluation
|A growing body of research
supports using a community change approach in program development.
This approach utilizes an ecological or systemic programming model,
which develops the capacity of the community system at a broader level
than the individual or even the family. Although the community change
approach is often greater in impact than individual programming approaches,
community change is often difficult to produce, observe, and evaluate.
One of the main frustrations with evaluating these types of programs
is the tremendous amount of time it takes to get from program conception
to tangible community changes. At the same time funders are asking
for program impacts after as little as 6 months of programming. The
Community National Outcome Workgroup feels strongly that there needs
to be a framework for evaluation that allows community programmers
to measure outcomes as they program, and at the same time, create
a model for the eventual measuring of longer-term changes on community
||In order to create the evaluation tools
needed to conduct this level of evaluation, a group of expert educators,
program developers, and evaluators from 14 states was formed. For
organizational purposes, a framework had to be conceived that would
encompass all educational program efforts in the area of community
impact. The resulting structure was adapted from the work of Hogue,
Perkins, Clark, Bergstrom, Slinski, & Associates (1995). This group
identified four interdependent areas in which community groups (often
called collaborations) produce outcomes, which we have adopted as
the indicator areas for community evaluation: Process Development,
Resource Development, Policy Development, and Citizen Development.
In order to show how community capacity building efforts result in concrete
community changes, evaluation must not only assess changes in group processes
and structures, but also changes in community indicators. This requires
evaluation at multiple levels of community systems and at multiple stages
of the programming process. Even developments in groups processes, such
as changes in the way a group works together, or structures its leadership,
can have outcomes at the individual level. (i.e., A newly mobilized community
member becomes a key leader in getting community policing available in
the neighborhood, resulting in tremendous increases in individual feelings
of empowerment and self-efficacy). Therefore even changes labeled as "process
changes" can have impacts at multiple levels of the system, and are therefore
very important to evaluate.
If community development efforts are successful, they will lead to the
ultimate goal of making our communities the best possible places to live.
Concrete community impacts such as reduction in crime, improvements in
schools, decreases in unemployment, and improved environments are often
targeted at an ultimate goal of community development efforts. The problem
arises though, when these complexly determined community impacts are the
heart of the program assessment criteria. We recommend that multiple levels
of community processes and structures be evaluated in order to create
a logical progression toward achievement and assessment of community impacts.
Evaluation of both Process and Structural Factors, such as group functioning
and changes in community resources and policies, will then create a logic
model for the evaluation of community impacts.
Therefore, programming that seeks to create and document community
change must be able to identify:
1. Changes in the efficiency and effectiveness of community group
2. Changes in community structures (Policies, citizens, resources,
3. Changes in community social, economic, and environmental indicators.
Process development seeks to provide
tools for assessing a change in the way a community group is formed
Impact area: Process Development
||Link to Research
||Research and Evaluation
||Accessibility and Use of Resources
|Structural factors seek to assess changes
in the community resources; knowledge, skill, behavior, and mobilization
of the individual community members; and community policies. Three
impact areas were identified to measure these structural changes.
Impact area: Resource Development
Impact area: Citizen Development
Impact area: Policy Development
||Changes in CYF Policies
||Changes in People
|Community Change Indicators - Changes in the
social, economic, or environmental conditions (SEEC) of a community.
Often, this is the ultimate goal of community programming.
||Quality of life
The community change evaluation resources presented here will allow
a program to specifically look at program effects on the processes and
structures in a community. Community changes in these areas allow
for long term impacts on the children, youth and families in that community.
Evaluation resources for directly measuring impacts on Children, Youth
and Families can be found in the other three national outcome areas: Children,
Youth and Parent/Families.
Models for Community Change
Bronfenbrenner’s Model of the Ecology of
Risk and Resiliency
Asset - Based Assessment
The Collaboration Framework
Indicator Areas for Community Change
Community Change Indicators
The CYFAR State Strengthening Projects are seeking to make communities
safer and healthier places to live. Educational programs are creating
impacts that must be assessed to show change and to lead to program improvement.
Effective programming efforts need to be documented in ways that increase
the likelihood of program replication. This will allow educational program
models and practices that work to be more widely disseminated and utilized.
Community Impact Evaluation materials will improve the capacity of the
CYFAR State Strengthening Projects to measure the impact of their efforts
in the community; thus allowing for the Cooperative Extension Service
to remain a leader in research, program development, and dissemination
in community programming.
Community - Often defined in terms of geography or physical area;
however, to its citizens, a community can be defined in emotional terms.
A citizen may not physically reside within the geographical boundaries
of a community and yet still feel a part of that community. In terms of
State Strengthening Projects, a community is the designated area that
is affected by the individual project itself. One Targeted Community Project
may define their community as a school district, another may define its
community as a small urban neighborhood.
Community Groups (community linkages)
A linkage is any group of 2 or more individuals or agencies working together
to meet a common need and achieve a common goal. This can range from networking
type associations, to community-driven educational programming, to any
level of existing groups such as boards, committees, coalitions, and collaborative
Types of Groups/Linkages
Including: Networks, coalitions, alliances, cooperations, partnerships,
and collaborations. (See the Collaboration Framework at http://crs.uvm.edu/nnco/collab/framework.html)
For the purposes of this evaluation material, collaboration, which is
often used to describe any level of community linkage or group working
together, will be used specifically as defined as a formal type of community
linkage as outlined in The Collaboration Framework, p 5.
Examples of Types of Groups/Linkages
Example One: A Family and Consumer Sciences agent wanting to start a parenting
education program has informal conversations regarding shared space with
other agencies in the community.
Example Two: Citizens who desire increased leadership skills come together
for a series of classes in leadership development..
Cooperation or Alliance
Example: Agencies that provide any type of Parenting Education programs
within a community will provide these services cooperatively and with
shared and complementary goals. They form an advisory group that meets
every couple months.
Coordination or Partnership
Example: Agency representatives and citizen participants form a group
that shares curriculum and people resources to support a parenting education
program. They form an advisory group that meets on a regularly scheduled
Example: Agency representatives and citizens participants form a group
that plans, designs, and implements a comprehensive parent education program
within a community. Process requires a minimum of three years of work
on the part of the group, which holds formal regularly scheduled meetings.
Example: Agency leaders and key citizen stakeholders form a group that
plans, designs, and implements a comprehensive parent education program
within a community. Process requires a minimum of three years work on
the part of the group, which holds very formal links, regularly scheduled
meetings, and which has highly developed communication.
Models of Community Change
Model of the Ecology of Human Development
Risk and Resiliency
Asset - Based Assessment
The Collaboration Framework
Bronfenbrenner’s Model of the Ecology of
The ecological paradigm began with Lewin's (1951) Behavior = f (Person,
Environment) model and Bronfenbrenner's (1979) Model of the Ecology of
Human Development and definition of reciprocity, that humans are active
and shape the environments in which they live. Bronfenbrenner suggested
several levels at which the individual and the environmental systems interact.
The basic concepts in Bronfenbrenner's model are helpful in illustrating
the complexity of the systems in which the individual exists and how that
is often multiple systems embedded in one another. (Pictured in Figure
1 as concentric circles) In the center of the model is the individual.
The individual is encircled by the microsystem. Microsystems are the immediate
pattern of activities, roles, and relationships of the individual. Microsystems
are encircled by the mesosystem, the relationships between two or more
settings in which the individual participates. Mesosystems exist within
exosystems, which are settings outside of the individuals' direct contact
but whose decisions affect the individual. Lastly, the outermost ring
of the model represents macrosytems, the social order and cultural norms
underlying the consistencies in the inner circles (See Figure 1, Bronfenbrenner,
1979). The ecological paradigm seeks to help the individual from the environmental
perspective, "that is, by placing major attention on the creation and
maintenance of challenging, supportive, and responsive environments, both
proximate and distal" (Whittaker, Schinke, and Gilchrist, 1986, pp. 491-492).
Since Bronfenbrenner's original writings on the ecology of the individual,
there has been a myriad of literature stressing the necessity of striving
toward a systemic perspective in both program development and intervention,
but there has been little movement in that direction (Andrews, Bubolz,
and Paolucci, 1980; Rosado & Elias, 1993; Tittler, Friedman, Blotcky,
and Stedrack, 1982). These studies show the improved program impact of
moving away from the person-centered model of intervention predominant
in mental health services to a multilevel, ecological intervention. Kraft
and DeMaio state that the nature of interventions has not matched the
paradigm shift on what works, "It seems likely that the disparity between
the problem definition and the focus of intervention is related to the
ineffectiveness of traditional services for adolescents; while the intervention
focuses mainly on internal dimensions of the adolescent, the relationship
between the adolescent and the various social systems - educational, legal,
mental health - is virtually ignored" (Kraft & DeMaio, 1982, p. 132).
Intervening in the ecology of the individual is the most influential aspect
of success (Beckett & Coley, 1987; Hobfoll, 1990; Jason, Betts, Johnson,
Smith, Kruckeburg, & Cradock, 1989). This ecology must be understood from
more than a geographic or socioeconomic perspective. Every local or economic
situation can have all of the factors that make or break a person's chance
Risk and Protective Factors
In the 1970's, Rutter began to investigate the mechanisms by which some
children were able to maintain resiliency in the face of extremely stressful
life situations. Risk factors were defined as "biological or psychosocial
hazards that increase the likelihood of a negative developmental outcome"
(Werner 1990). Through a series of longitudinal studies of children and
their family and life situations, Rutter (1979) developed a list of both
risk and protective mechanisms that showed consistent impact on the children's
life across time. These risk factors include: Antisocial behavior, alienation,
poor parental supervision, uninvolved parenting, unclear family expectations,
problematic peer groups, academic difficulty, transitions, long work hours,
poverty, media influences, etc. These factors make the individual more
susceptible to problematic symptomology. Rutter's research on the variables
found to be strongly associated with child psychiatric disorders and their
prevalence in families suggests that the presence of one risk factor has
no significant detrimental effect, but having two risk factors quadruples
the probability of dysfunction. In addition, having four or more risk
factors present increases the probability of dysfunction by 20 or 30 times
than the individual with no risk factors (Rutter, 1979).
In a more hopeful light, this research also investigated the instances
of individuals with several risk factors being able to maintain adaptive
functioning. In a review of the child development literature, Werner (1990)
suggests that there is a set of mechanisms that "protect" the at-risk
individual from developing maladaptive behaviors. The factors are termed
protective factors and include things such as self-efficacy, personal
responsibility, well developed interpersonal skills, religious commitment,
intellect, good social support, positive school or work experiences, and
helpfulness. This would suggest that intervention focusing on increasing
protective factors would be truly preventative for at-risk CYF (Brooks,
1994; Garmezy, 1993; Rutter 1979, 1987; Werner, 1990; Whittaker, Schinke,
and Gilchrist, 1986).
This field of research has changed fundamentally in the past few years.
Instead of finding risk and protective factors primarily existing within
the individual, there is a whole new literature on the factors that exist
in the community or system within which the individual lives. The prevention,
protective factor focus has been maintained, and these factors are now
called assets. The individual can have specific assets, but the realization
of these is largely determined by the assets that exist in the community
and system at large. Kretzmann and McKnight (1993) have written extensively
about community development through finding and mobilizing these assets
within the community. (Jakes, 1997 - unpublished master's thesis) Their
three interrelated characteristics that define "asset-based community
development" closely resemble the philosophy of the CYFAR Initiative:
1. It begins with what is present in the community, including
the capacities of the members, people who work there, as well
as the associations and organizational base, not what is absent, problematic
2. This process is internally focused; i.e., it concentrates on
the agenda building and problem solving capacities of local residents,
associations and organizations.
3. Asset based community development needs to be relationship
driven; in other words, a critical focus for community development work
must be on the relationships between and among local residents,
associations and organizations.
John McKnight and John Kretzmann's (1993) work in community capacity
building and their definition of community attempts to establish a common
understanding of this complex concept. Community is "the social place
used by family, friends, neighbors, neighborhood associations, clubs,
civic groups, local enterprises, churches, ethnic associations, temples,
local unions, local government, and local media" (McKnight, 1995: p. 164).
A community of associations (collaborating organizations) according to
McKnight and Kretzmann (1993) is one key to building healthy communities.
Healthy communities and healthy families create a self-strengthening bond.
While McKnight and Kretzmann (1993) argue that communities need external
resources to assist them with their efforts, all communities (and their
organizations and individual members) possess significant assets that
can be mobilized and utilized. The authors feel this assets based approach
is particularly important in the approach to citizen participation in
low income communities where the tradition has been to begin with deficits
rather than strengths. These authors take the needs assessment folks head
on, stressing the critical point of starting with a positive assessment
of existing capacity as opposed to gaps, or deficiencies. Some call this
the just say "yes" approach. Dr. Spock lives on as theorists, rooted in
the 1960s, apply child rearing perspectives to community structure. McKnight
and Kretzmann (1992) have broken down assets and capacities into three
The first of these categories is primary building blocks, assets that
are located in the community and are controlled by its members (includes
skills of community members and local businesses, forms of human and social
capital). They call the second category secondary building blocks. These
are assets not currently under community control but which can be brought
under its control. Subsequently they can be used for community-building
purposes (e.g. private and nonprofit institutions and services). McKnight
and Kretzmann (1993) refer to the third category as potential building
blocks. (Here again we see that from an individual level of analysis,
a whole school of contemporary action researchers have moved the assets
based focus into "resiliency factors" as an assessment tool for working
with disadvantaged individuals, most frequently, children. While the focus
upon children is not particularly relevant to this discussion - which
has assumed that we are talking primarily about adult citizens - it is
noteworthy in that much of extension's youth and family programming focus
has been influenced by the resiliency focus. Of course we can't lose sight
of the fact that today's children are tomorrow's adults; children and
adults are, of course, citizens. The common dimension here is the building
of social capital, be it "learning healthy social skills" or "finding
positive role models", which can pay off as more self-sufficient, well-centered,
participating citizens of the future. (Schmidt, 1998)
The Collaboration Framework (http://crs.uvm.edu/nnco/collab/framework.html)
The Collaboration Framework outlines a framework in which community linkages
operate. It provides definitions of the types of linkages, process and
contextual factors influencing linkages, and a model for the interaction
of all of these factors. This Framework has been used extensively in the
development of these community evaluation resources and has been reviewed
and revised with the input of team members from the National Network for
Collaboration. This site will provide and explanation of the framework
as well as many other Collaboration resources.
There are tremendous resources in community development available through
your local Cooperative Extension office. One Internet based tool that
has thousands of pages of community development "how tos" is the Community
Tool Box available at http://ctb.lsi.ukans.edu/.