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Spring Break for Many, But Not for All PDF Print
Friday, 13 March 2015 14:15

Spring is just around the corner. For many of our youth, spring is so much more than sunny and warm weather. As our LAYC youth start to shed their jackets, springtime is their slide into spring break, hunting for summer jobs, and more. For many high school seniors, "senioritis" has set in. Students have fewer classes; many are working to finish their community service hours and making some big decisions about college, financial aid, and life after high school.

But for now, the excitement of spring break is here: sleeping late, hanging out, and having fun. I admit I love spring break too.

As I plan for my own spring break college trips and vacation with my son and family, I am saddened by an article I read yesterday in the Washington Post entitled Mexican kids held for months as punishment for border-crossing. The article talks about Mexican children in detention shelters held for months at the border. Their fate varies, some are sent back while others are sent to U.S. facilities. Often questioned about criminal groups in Mexico, their lives may be at risk upon their return to the country. Sadly, there is no follow-up on their fate upon their return home.

I often write about the problems our LAYC youth face in the metropolitan area. Many face huge challenges in our region's public school systems, with gangs, complex family issues, homelessness, and more. Yet despite the challenges, there exist opportunities we work to realize at LAYC.

I think about these Mexican kids held in detention – there is no spring break for them. Hopefully some of these youth will be re-united with family members, while others, with good immigration support, may be able to begin a new life in the United States. Yet too many will be forgotten, deported, and simply returned. But returned to what, where, and to whom? That is truly the question.

According to the Washington Office on Latino Affairs (WOLA), "child migration may increase this summer." As always at LAYC, we stand committed to support all youth and children who need us.

 
Tony Fujs on Building a Great Performance measurement System (GPS) PDF Print
Friday, 06 March 2015 12:27

Hello! I’m Tony Fujs, Director of Evaluation at the Latin American Youth Center, a DC based non-profit organization. When asked about the role of my department, I often respond that it aims to be “the GPS unit of the organization”, showing decision-makers whether the organization is on track or not toward achieving its goals.

I like the GPS analogy because it is simple and easy to understand. It also provides an interesting framework to think about performance measurement systems, and how to improve them.

Nonprofits Performance measurement systems

Where we are: Where we want to be:
Image credit: Biblioteca de la Facultad de Derecho y Ciencias del Trabajo

Image credit: Biblioteca de la Facultad de Derecho y Ciencias del Trabajo

 

Image credit: Tony Fujs

Image credit: Tony Fujs

 

Let’s look at a few concrete examples to illustrate this point:

Fujs table

Fujs table

Lessons Learned: On data collection.

Recognize that data collection is always a burden: Collect only what is needed. Eliminate manual data entry whenever possible; if not possible make the user interface as intuitive as possible.

On data processing. Automate, automate, automate: Internal evaluators generally work with different instances of the same data sets, therefore data cleaning and other analytical tasks can easily be automated: Use programming tools like Excel macros or R. Modern databases can also be customized to automatically “catch” data entry errors.

Hot Tip: Want to learn more about efficient data processing? I’ll be running a workshop on data management at the next EERS conference.

On providing actionable information

Make sure the information generated by the performance measurement system is useful and understandable for the end user.

Make evaluation results hard to ignore: For instance, they could be displayed on a giant TV screen in the hall of the organization building, so nobody can enter the building without seeing them.

Simple is beautiful

Building a culture of data is often cited as a critical step in generating buy-in toward performance measurement systems. It is a critical step indeed, but partly because performance measurement systems are often perceived as complex and cumbersome by the end-user. Drivers adopted the GPS because it is useful and easy to use, not because they developed a culture of data. Building useful, simple, and intuitive performance measurement systems can also be a powerful and sustainable strategy to generate buy-in.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Eastern Evaluation Research Society (EERS) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from EERS 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 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 March 2015 12:32
 
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