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About this Tool

The Purpose of the Evaluation Toolkit

This Evaluation Toolkit is designed to strengthen the capacity of pre-college outreach programs to collect and apply evaluation data to improving program outcomes. Outreach programs serve as an important gateway to postsecondary education for underserved students by providing college planning, preparation, and support services. The lack of rigorous and reliable evaluation by most outreach programs, however, is a significant barrier to increasing program effectiveness, comparing data across programs, and documenting program outcomes to maintain and grow funding.

This Evalution Toolkit has two purposes.

  1. The first goal is to develop a freely accessible, research-based Evaluation Toolkit that will enable outreach programs to more readily and systematically use data and outcome measures to improve service delivery. 
  2. The second goal is to promote research that will identify effective program models across outreach programs and document the collective impact of programs by using the evaluation data generated through the common assessment framework in the Toolkit.

The Pell Institute and Pathways to College Network

The Evaluation Toolkit is housed at The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education,whose mission is to conduct and disseminate research and policy analysis to encourage policymakers, educators, and the public to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities. The Pell Institute is the first research institute to specifically address the issues impacting educational opportunity for this growing population. To examine these issues, the Pell Institute conducts independent research in three areas: access, success, and innovation.

In addition, the Pell Institute addresses issues impacting educational opportunity and functions as the research and policy analysis unit for the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE). The Council for Opportunity in Education is a nonprofit organization, established in 1981, dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities throughout the United States. Its membership includes more than 1,000 colleges and agencies. Through its numerous membership services, the Council works in conjunction with colleges, universities, and agencies that host TRIO programs to specifically help low-income students enter college and graduate. More than one million low-income and disabled students each year receive college access and retention services through COE’s member colleges and agencies.

The Evaluation Toolkit is jointly managed by Pathways to College Networkwhich is an alliance of national organizations committed to working collaboratively to advance college access and success for underserved students, including those who are the first in their families to go to college, low-income students, underrepresented minorities, and students with disabilities. Pathways emphasizes connecting policymakers, education leaders and practitioners, and community and philanthropic leaders with research on effective strategies for improving college preparation, enrollment, and completion. The core work of Pathways focuses on three ideas: increasing knowledge, supporting action, and raising awareness.

Pathways is housed at the The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), an independent, nonprofit organization that is dedicated to access and success in postsecondary education around the world. Based in Washington, D.C., IHEP uses unique research and innovative programs to inform key decision makers who shape public policy and support economic and social development. IHEP envisions a world where all people can reach their full potential by participating and succeeding in postsecondary education.

The Funders of the Evaluation Toolkit

The Evaluation Toolkit was made possible by funding from both the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation for Education. 

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.

The Lumina Foundation for Education, an Indianapolis-based, private, independent foundation, strives to help people achieve their potential by expanding access to and success in education beyond high school. Through grants for research, innovation, communication, and evaluation, as well as policy education and leadership development, Lumina Foundation addresses issues that affect access and educational attainment among all students, particularly underserved student groups, including adult learners. The Foundation bases its mission on the belief that postsecondary education remains one of the most beneficial investments that individuals can make in themselves and that society can make in its people.

The Evaluation Toolkit Web Designer

Powell Tate is a leading strategic communications and public affairs firm. Located in Washington, D.C., the firm specializes in public affairs, public education, reputation and crisis management, media relations, creative and interactive services, and research and advertising. The firm is a part of Weber Shandwick, a global public relations and communications leader with offices in virtually every major media, government and business center on six continents.

Evaluation Guide