The CSR’s goal to revitalize our weblog to be current and more informative leads to a new type of post: a Project Overview post. There are several projects occurring simultaneously at CSR, so the idea behind project overviews is to give our readers a better understanding of the types of projects that we are involved in, while also thanking our clients for working with us.
Over the past 2 years, the DeVos Foundation has partnered with CSR to evaluate the effectiveness of programs that are integral to their Believe 2 Become initiative, some of which include their Baby Scholars program, Gatherings of Hope program, and Summer Learning Academy program. However, since the Summer Learning Academy programs have taken precedence for us during this time of year, it is opportune to coincide the beginnings of our project overviews with this academic initiative.
CSR’s ongoing, long-term work with the Believe 2 Become Initiative is beginning to bear fruit. A collaborative article, for which I served as the lead author, has just been published in The Foundation Review, “the nation’s first peer-reviewed journal of philanthropy”:
The article documents the coalition’s successful efforts to come to agreement on the complex issue of sharing student data in a secure, responsible fashion to support better personal service to students by program staff, greater alignment of out-of-school educational services with in-school curriculum, and more robust evaluation of overall program results in improving educational outcomes. The agreement facilitates transmission of data between the Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) and the Community Research Institute (CRI) at Grand Valley State University (GVSU).
With parental consent, identified student information such as attendance and recent academic performance is (or will be) available on a secure, need-to-know basis for staff at B2B out-of-school programs through nFocus Solutions’ TraxSolutions suite. Meanwhile deidentified data for larger populations of B2B participants and comparison groups is available to the research and evaluation team (including CSR, CRI and Basis Policy Research) .
While similar agreements have been made in other cities and school districts, they have generally been short term, less comprehensive, or have dealt only with aggregate data rather than tracking individual educational results over time. At CSR, we are privileged to be involved and excited about the potential this data-sharing infrastructure offers to Grand Rapids and to other metropolitan partnerships. As we learned at a recent Intelligence for Social Policy conference, interest and investment in data sharing agreements is soaring across the country. Grand Rapids is keeping pace and may even be moving ahead of the pack.