The Center’s vision for evaluation is rooted in the conviction that program evaluation and project management are inextricably linked. At its best, evaluation is viewed as a management and education tool, i.e., not to be conducted simply to prove that a program worked or not but also to improve the way it works.
All too often, conventional approaches to evaluation focus on examining only the outcomes or the impact of a project without examining the environment in which it operates or the processes involved in development. Assessing short and long-term outcomes is important and necessary, but we must also include a sophisticated understanding of how and why programs and services work, for whom they work, and in what circumstances. To that end, the Center has been involved in a broad array of context, implementation, and outcome evaluation studies. Examples include:
- Service-Learning and Civic Engagement
- Community Development
- School District Systems Change
- Higher Education and University-Community Partnerships
- Youth, Education, and Career-Related Evaluations
- Capacity Building/Management Studies
- Policy-Related Research
As part of the Heller School at Brandeis University, the Center for Youth and Communities has a longstanding commitment to knowledge development and the Heller School mission of “Knowledge Advancing Social Justice.” The Center’s work in research and evaluation, technical assistance and capacity building, and policy-related research are all aimed at informing program and policy development that leads to improved services and life circumstances for youth and families.