PACE Project

The PACE Project is an innovative approach to evaluation capacity building that offers unique professional development opportunities for staff of youth character development programs as well as evaluators.

For program staff, PACE is designed to immediately increase the capacity to evaluate, improve, defend and seek funding for programs. For current and future evaluation professionals, PACE offers a unique opportunity to develop expertise in evaluation capacity building and innovative evaluation techniques including systems evaluation and person-centered analyses.

The PACE approach is innovative in that it seeks to move beyond evaluation skill-building activities for program staff to also address the more foundational conditions of curiosity, motivation, and careful thinking that drive evaluation work forward. In addition, this Project is organized around a true partnership between evaluators and program staff, in which ownership of the evaluation process is shared, and both sets of professionals bring expertise to the project. Our hope is that this approach will result in sustained relationships between evaluators and youth character development program staff that will remain in place long after the Project concludes, and produce high quality youth character development program and evaluation work for years to come. For more information about the Project, visit the Detailed Project Description.

The PACE Project will support

  • 16 youth character development programs, each with a $2,500 award (plus an additional $2,000 for those who continue on to evaluation planning), plus travel expenses
  • 8 current or future evaluation professionals, each with a $6,000 award (plus an additional $2,500 per evaluation plan for those who continue on to evaluation planning with 1 or 2 partner programs), plus travel expenses

As a result of participating in the Project, programs and their staff will have:

  • Enhanced evaluation capacity
  • A well-developed theory of change
  • A Program and Evaluation Profile (PEP) that can be used to communicate about the program and its evaluation with stakeholders
  • Customized "talking points" that allow staff from participating programs to promote themselves as character/youth development programs and advocate for their approach to evaluation
  • An Evaluative Thinking site plan, designed to incrementally improve the organizational culture and communication around evaluation
  • An established relationship with an evaluation professional
  • Access to a network of participating programs and evaluators

Those programs that choose to develop a complete evaluation plan and implement that plan in partnership with their partner evaluator will also have

  • A formal and detailed evaluation plan 

‌Evaluators will have:

  • Increased knowledge and understanding of Evolutionary Evaluation, the Systems Evaluation Protocol, Evaluative Thinking, Person-Centered Analysis, and Character Virtue Development programming
  • Experience facilitating Evolutionary Evaluation, the Systems Evaluation Protocol, and Evaluative Thinking activities in an evaluation capacity building context
  • Experience partnering with 2 programs to develop: theories of change and Program and Evaluation Profiles (PEPs)
  • Experience with evaluation planning in partnership with up to 2 youth character programs (if mutually desired)  
  • A PACE Project credential from Montclair State University

The PACE Project is organized around a partnership between participating programs and evaluators that includes (for each cohort of programs): 

  • 2 workshops
  • Several webinars
  • Quarterly phone meetings
  • A culminating conference
  • Ongoing communication with partner program(s)/evaluator and facilitators