Evaluation

Mt. Auburn views evaluations as learning exercises. Our goal is to help clients identify and assess anticipated program outcomes, determine the effectiveness of various program elements, and refine activities to better meet intended outcomes.

Our approach emphasizes:

  • Clear articulation of the development program or model being evaluated
  • Design of performance measures that are consistent with the program model
  • Use of both quantitative and qualitative methods
  • Measurement of developmental and institutional impacts
  • Close collaboration between the consultants and the client, involving learning and teaching on both sides

To act on the knowledge gained from an evaluation, a consensus view must be built among varied constituencies. Mt. Auburn Associates works closely with a wide range of actors - including community-based organizations, individual businesses, local and state governments, chambers of commerce and other business-led organizations, public/private partnerships, and academic institutions - to assist clients in turning an evaluation into a viable plan of action.

Our skills span workforce development and economic development and our experience includes both formative and outcome evaluations. We have completed several community-level evaluations in addition to numerous multi-site state and national evaluations.


Workforce Development

Evaluation of SkillWorks Phase I and Phase II

Mt. Auburn was part of a team engaged in a multi-year evaluation of SkillWorks Phase I, a comprehensive initiative to promote workforce development systems reform in Boston. The initiative, considered a national model, is led by the Boston Foundation and includes the participation of a number of philanthropic funders, the city of Boston, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It involves funding innovative, community-based workforce development programs and promoting policy reforms to facilitate more effective services. After completing Phase I of the SkillWorks evaluation, Mt. Auburn was selected to lead the evaluation of Phase II.

Evaluation of The Heinz Endowments' Economic Opportunity Program

Over a five-year period, Mt. Auburn worked with The Heinz Endowments to evaluate its Economic Opportunity Program. The first phase of the evaluation involved the articulation of a clear "theory of change" and the development of an evaluation work plan. The second phase focused on the workforce development system as a whole, with particular emphases on the workforce intermediaries that Heinz has helped to build and on critical labor market information. The evaluation included facilitating learning activities with grantees to address issues identified in the evaluation. The third phase examined EOP's effort to build a more effective network of regional learning providers through the region's community colleges.


Economic Development

Living Cities Integration Initiative National Evaluation

Mt. Auburn Associates was the lead national evaluator of the Living Cities Integration Initiative, which provided both grants and capital to five sites: the Twin Cities, Baltimore, Detroit, Newark, and Cleveland. Living Cities' investments were intended to reshape communities by bringing together key stakeholders to overhaul obsolete systems and integrate cross-sectors activities to improve the lives of low-income individuals. The focus area of each site differed, ranging from the Corridors of Opportunity effort in the Twin Cities, which sought to develop a new integrated approach to transit development in the region, to an anchor-based strategy in Cleveland, aimed at driving neighborhood wealth-building and regional economic development. This evaluation was developmental in nature with Mt Auburn acting as a strategic learning partner, providing formative feedback to Living Cities as well as summative evaluation with a focus on the system change elements of the Initiative. The evaluation had three main elements: formative feedback to Living Cities; cross-site outcomes and learning; and an assessment of how the Initiative added to field knowledge and influencing practices nationally. The methodology for this evaluation involved extensive key informant interviews, on-site visits, observations at semi-annual learning community meetings and other topic-focused convenings, observation at select senior staff meetings, document review, as well as the design, administration, and analysis of a social network survey that was conducted by Mt. Auburn's partner, Mathematica, Inc.

WTC Economic Recovery: Rebuilding the Economy of Lower Manhattan

Mt. Auburn Associates was hired by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) to assess New York State Economic Recovery Programs designed to respond to the September 11th attacks. Our report found that ESD exhibited early, strong, well-informed, and decisive management of the recovery process. Loans, grants, and technical assistance reached a large proportion of impacted businesses in Lower Manhattan in a timely fashion. We recommended that federal laws and policies be reviewed and revised to address the economic recovery needs of a large-scale disaster, and that state and local governments, with the help of the Department of Homeland Security, should be better prepared for economic emergencies. After hurricane Katrina, ESD officials shared lessons learned from the World Trade Center disaster recovery in meetings Mt. Auburn facilitated with our clients in Louisiana.

U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)
Over the past 20 years Mt. Auburn has been involved in a number of evaluations of programs of the U.S. Economic Development Administration, including the University Center Program, the Revolving Loan Fund Program, the Public Works Program, and the Local Technical Assistance Program.