Measuring Community Development: Moving Beyond Jobs and Investment

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Information about Measuring Community Development: Moving Beyond Jobs and Investment

Published on March 3, 2014

Author: BrianHarger



A presentation made by Dr. Norman Walzer and Andy Blanke to the 2013 Community Development Society meeting in Charleston, South Carolina on July 24, 2013.

Measuring Community Development Moving Beyond Jobs and Investment Norman Walzer and Andy Blanke Presented to 2013 Community Development Society Meetings Charleston, SC July 24, 2013

Presentation Overview • Theoretical Framework and Principles • Historical Interest in and Reasons for Measurement  • Key Components Involved • Major Approaches ‐ Strengths and Limitations  Universal  Contingent on Local Conditions • Examples of Successful Approaches Based on Principles • Needs for Future Research and Practice • Pending Journal of Community Development Issue

Outcome Measurement Framework Policy Priorities Social Economic Environmental Policy improvement Policy formation Strategic Plan Measurable goals Stakeholder support Policy implementation Indicators Relevant Cost‐Effective Diversified

Key Measurement Concepts  (Hart, 2012) • Goal‐‐ change desired by community • Indicator‐‐ measures progress toward goals • Levels of indicators System E.g. Percent in poverty Program E.g.  Number of clients  Action E.g. Number of  housing units  built

Successful Indicators* • • • • • • • • • Validity‐ sound data depicts real situation Relevance‐ pertinent to  community issue Consistent and Reliable‐ can be used over time Measurable‐ can be obtained for community Clarity‐ unambiguous and understandable Comprehensive‐ represents many parts of issue Cost‐effective‐ relatively inexpensive to collect Comparable‐ sufficient general to allow city comparisons Attractive to media‐ gain exposure and discussion *Rhonda Phillips. Community Indicators. American Planning Association, Report 517

Ongoing challenges • Cost‐effectiveness vs Relevance  State/national sources 1 year behind  Local quantitative studies are expensive • Relevance vs Comparability  Communities have unique goals  Need benchmarks, best practices • Cost‐effectiveness vs Comparability  Case studies not generalizable  Local quantitative studies are expensive

Models of Measurement Universal Contingent‐ Independent Contingent‐ Facilitated • Quantitative focus • Unique goals • Unique goals • Common goals  • Not comparable • Limited comparability • Comparable • Own strategic plan and  • Technical assistance  • Secondary data • Technical assistance  from larger organization consultants • Qualitative and  quantitative • Primary and secondary  data from larger organization  • Qualitative focus • Mostly primary data

Trends in Measurement Practices • 1960’s ‐ quality of life measures nationally • 1970’s ‐ quality of life locally in CA and NY • 1980’s & 90’s  Sustainability in Seattle  Benchmarking economic development in Oregon • 2000’s ‐ application to rural communities • Recent years‐ growing technical assistance  Developmental models  Focus on Sustainability  Measuring community wealth • Growing Interest by Foundations in Measuring Investment  Outcomes

Early Interest by Nonprofit Sector* • Financial Accountability • Program Products or Outputs • Adherence to Standards of Quality in Service Delivery • Participant‐related Measures (need) • Key Performance Indicators • Client Satisfaction (not instituted until later) * Margaret Plantz, Martha Taylor Greenway, and Michael Henricks. 1997. “Outcome Measurement: Showing  Results in the Nonprofit Sector.” New Directions for Evaluation, no. 75.

Success Measures Neighborworks USA • National Grant‐making Organization • Provides Online toolkit • 122 possible indicators  Social, environmental, economic  Local choice    Survey guides/templates  State/national sources     • Used by 300 organizations in 48 states  • Common use ‐ housing programs  Changes in property values  Survey satisfaction w/ home quality, safety • Strategic plan ‐ choose own indicators • Cost‐effective ‐ technical assistance

Youthscape Initiative in Canada • Engage youth in 5 cities • Hired evaluators  Participant observation  Frequent interviews w/ clients, employees ID successes, concerns  • Monthly conference calls 5 local evaluators report National coordinator looks for patterns • Quarterly reports • Cost effective  Technical assistance  Updated quickly  Enables quick corrections (eg:  replace problem employee) 

Vibrant Communities Canada Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement  • Poverty reduction in 13 cities • 3‐part process:   Local theory of change (strategic plan)  Stories about progress (process indicators)  Semi‐annual report‐ # clients served, partner orgs., program narrative  (systems indicators)  • Refine goals with client input (policy improvement) • Cost‐effective ‐ simple to measure

Minnesota Compass Wilder Foundation • Dashboard for Minnesota counties • Indicators chosen by business leaders, academics, local  officials.  Relevant to policy goals  Clear meaning • Outcomes before/after program  1995‐2010 • For other counties  In progress:  custom geographies • Social, environmental, economic focus  Eg. transportation, economic disparity, air & water quality  

Central Appalachian Network (Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia) • Strategic plan for improving quality of life for farmers  • 7 forms of capital  Intellectual‐ stock of knowledge, creativity, innovation  Social‐ new relationships‐ restaurants putting local food on menus  Built‐ freezing facilities built to aid farmers (economic)  Natural‐ acres of farmland preserved (environment)  Political – stock of power ands goodwill held in region  Financial‐ growing farm income (social, economic)  Cultural‐ influences ways how people define and approach issues • Cost‐effective  Secondary sources for economic Indicators  Case studies for social capital  Indicators collected as part of operations

Summary • Plan must come first  Define goals  Gain support • Smaller organizations need technical assistance  Current data sources  Guides/templates  Consultants • Be qualitative when measuring process  More timely  Case studies • Use quantitative measures when measuring outcomes   Identifies problems, results  • Conduct research to understand indicators and policy  intervention

For Additional Information  Norman Walzer Andy Blanke Senior Research Scholar Research Associate Center for Governmental Studies 148 N. Third Street DeKalb, IL 60115

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