Outcomes & Assessments
Applications should include a description of three basic elements of a project: program activities, short-term outcomes, and long-term impact. This will provide not only an explanation of what will occur during the grant period, but also a picture of the intended effect. Program activities should lead to short-term outcomes that result in the proposed long-term impact. By identifying tangible and realistic outcomes at the outset, an agency can conduct an informed assessment at the end of a program year and provide early feedback on a program's likely long-term direction.
If a grant is awarded, we require a report on program activities at the end of the grant year, and encourage interim reporting on any significant accomplishments or program changes throughout that year. Final reports to the Foundation should compare and contrast the actual program activities, short-term outcomes, and long-term impact with the projections offered in the Application. See After Grant Approval for information on end-of-year reporting requirements.
A further explanation of how activities, outcomes and impact are related, follows.
A description of program activities should provide details about what will occur during the grant period. Such details include information about the type of activities planned and their frequency and duration, and should identify the participants or beneficiaries of the program. In a welfare-to-work program, for example, the activities might include enrolling women in the program, providing adult education classes, job readiness workshops, support groups, on-site day care and making linkages to job training programs. A detailed description of each program component serves not only to delineate activities which are intended to occur during a program year, it also provides a context for assessing the program's implementation at year-end.
Short Term Outcomes
Before implementing a project, an agency should outline measurable short-term outcomes that will demonstrate the change expected to occur as a result of the program activities. In the example of a welfare-to-work project, short-term outcomes would include the number of participants who became employed, as well as many outcomes preceding that objective, such as increased literacy rates, participation in and completion of job training programs and job search activities. This type of information provides important benchmarks for determining if a program is creating the desired results which will lead to its ultimate goal.
Long Term Impact
The long term impact of a project is reflected in the cumulative or lasting changes it effects. For a welfare-to-work project, the ability to keep participants off of welfare and in sustainable employment is an obvious long-term goal. While long-term tracking may be difficult, preliminary indicators that may be used to estimate long term outcomes can be helpful. For instance, client progress can be tracked at intervals following program completion to determine if employment is maintained at 60, 90 or 120 days. Establishing tangible, long-term goals and identifying indicators of success helps to guide the direction of a program and provides a framework for assessing its effectiveness over time.