January 31, 2018  /   Blog

Spark Leads the Way in Program Evaluation

by: Heather King, PhD
Director of Evaluation, Spark

Program evaluation is essential for making data-driven improvement and understanding impact. Spark has been investing in evaluation, and it’s being noticed! Just after earning the US2020 STEM Mentoring Award for Excellence in Impact Measurement in October 2017, Spark was recognized by Mission Measurement’s Impact Genome Project (IGP).  


Mission Measurement is the leader in social sector data and insights.  Their work in collecting and interpreting a wide range of evidence makes data understandable and actionable for stakeholders. The Impact Genome Project includes evidence from over 10,000 studies, and generates customized Program Scorecards for an organization — detailing whether the program is using best practices from the literature, the quality of program evaluation data, and suggested changes that may make the program more effective for stakeholders.


Spark, generously supported by The REAM Foundation, partnered with Mission Measurement to undergo the Impact Genome process. The REAM Foundation aims to help people reach their full potential, with a focus on children, in part by supporting organizations that improve access to and the quality of education.


The highlights of the Impact Genome Report for Spark included:


(1) The quality of Spark’s impact data leads the way compared to peer organizations

Mission Measurement analyzed the self-reported data of nonprofits within the IGP Evidence Base that serve similar populations and work toward the same primary outcomes as Spark, and noted that the “quality of evidence in pre-post data submitted by Spark is among the highest in the database.”


(2) Spark has significant potential for increased scale.

Mission Measurement also compared Spark programming to that of peer organization in our regions. They concluded that Spark has high potential to expand. “Given the unique innovative nature of the program, other programs operating in this area would not be able to provide coverage for the remaining potential beneficiaries.”


(3) Spark’s program model has a strong evidence base for effectiveness.

Based on the extensive evidence in the Impact Genome, Mission Measurement confirmed that Spark focuses on strategies that are most effective for delivering impact in youth social and emotional learning. Specifically, of all strategies related to increasing youth social and emotional skills, Spark focuses on 2 of the top 3 most effective strategies, and 5 of the top 10.


Additionally, Mission Measurement has partnered with GuideStar, which collects data on non-profits and allows funders to assess the quality of their work. GuideStar will now use a badge to indicate that an organization has been evaluated by the Impact Genome Project. This will signal to funders that the organization values and invests in quality evaluation. Spark is proud to carry the Impact Genome Project Badge on their Guidestar Profile!

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