Apter & O'Conner

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Meet our new Associates.   Apter & O’Connor is growing.  Take a look at the “About Us” page on this website and check out our three new Associates, Vicki Quigley, Marvin Blachman and Stephanie Pelcher.  We are impressed with their credentials and excited to have them on board.   Frequent visitors may notice our site has a new look.  We hope you enjoy seeing our latest activities and we would love to hear your comments about our site.

Measuring Impact ….. A &O has years of experience in assisting coalitions to clarify their mission and values, set goals and measure their progress in reaching their goals. Through our work with Literacy Powerline, we have served as independent evaluators with Coalitions at various stages of development.

Click here to access A&O’s past conference PowerPoint presentations:
– Coalition Evaluation 101 – Evaluating Your Coalition: Why Do It? How to Get Started?
– Coalition Evaluation 102 – Evaluating Your Coalition: Are We Making an Impact?
– Coalition Handouts and Resources – Resources for Coalition Assessment2013 and Evaluating the Right Thing at the Right Time.

Most recently, we are working with The Flint & Genesee County Literacy and Basic Skills Network, based in Flint, Michigan. They want to document their development as a coalition and measure their progress toward creating a community-wide literacy plan for Flint and Genesee County.

A key to evaluating any coalitions is to ask the right questions at the right time in the group’s development. We assess key performance measures along the way in order to measure the ultimate collective impact of the coalition. An excellent manual was recently published entitled, Guide to Evaluating Collective Impact. It is available on-line at no cost from The Collective Impact Forum.

Conference Announcement — Literacy Powerline will join with National Center for Families Learning for their third annual conference together!

 

The 2015 Families Learning Summit
Monday, March 16, 2015 – Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Hyatt Regency Houston
1200 Louisiana Street
Houston, Texas 77002

The Summit brings together academics, providers and funders from across the country to share ideas and successes that help families build 21st century skills.  Mentoring programs, service learning, digital approaches to college and career readiness, and literacy collaboratives are but a few of the approaches that will be explored.

The Summit also includes a Literacy Funders Network track of sessions.  The Literacy Funders Network (LFN), an affinity group of the Council on Foundations will offer sessions on literacy coalition creation, funding, outcome measurement and best practices.

For more information visit:
Literacy Powerline: 
http://www.literacypowerline.com 
National Center for Families Learning:  http://www.familieslearning.org/

The Huntington Family Centers Brighton Tower’s Service Coordination Program needed an independent quality assurance review on a tight timeline. Funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the program provides residents in this 600 unit subsidized senior housing complex with the personal assistance they need to access resources and services.

The review examined the 12-month period ending June 30, 2014. A&O worked with residents, apartment building staff and Huntington to answer the three questions all funders and providers need answered: 1) Did implement with fidelity ? 2) Did we do it with quality? 3) Did our services have an impact on our constituents? We conducted interviews, held group discussions with residents, and used questionnaires to collect anonymous feedback. Sixty residents participated (approximately 10% of total residents, and 25% of the residents served in 2013). We wanted to know about their satisfaction and utilization of the services offered as well as barriers the residents faced in accessing them. We also gathered ideas for improvement for the Service Coordination Program.

In addition to providing the deliverable of a high quality independent program evaluation for the client, our process of communicating with residents about the Service Coordination Program increased their understanding of this valuable resource.

Monroe Community College, State University of New York was interested in building
their capacity for successful grant-writing. In June 2014, the college held its first SUNY
Community College Grants Symposium in Rochester, NY. Advancement professionals
from Community Colleges across the state came together to build skills in effective
grant writing as well as learn more about each other’s programs for future collaborative
projects.

Cynthia O’Connor, along with our new Associate, Vicki Quigley gave a presentation
on “How to Engage and Work with an External Evaluator”. Cynthia illustrated how an
independent evaluator provides an impartial assessment and can supplement the over
burdened staff of a development office. Vicki drew on her experience as a community
college dean to compare and contrast grant evaluation with the myriad of data collection
activities SUNY routinely requires.

Apter & O’Connor is excited about our new partnership with Literacy Powerline. The mission of Literacy Powerline is to increase literacy levels through effective and sustainable community collaboration and engagement. Literacy Powerline works with educators, business and labor leaders, philanthropic organizations, civic and faith-based groups, policymakers, literacy providers and students to demonstrate that everyone thrives when a community is committed to 100% literacy.

Their founder, Margaret Doughty says it best: “Community literacy has a short history for a revolutionary idea. Literacy Powerline was one of the first to recognize the power of linking stakeholders, neighborhoods and services together to increase literacy levels.” Along with LiteracyPowerline Network Partner Kim Scott, Apter & O’Connor will offer strategic planning, needs assessment and evaluation expertise to coalitions across the country to develop effective and highly accountable literacy initiatives within their own communities.

The Utility and Value of a Statistical Approach to Converting Program Data to Useful Information. This was the title of a workshop presented by Dr. Don Cibula of Apter & O’Connor Associates at the CNY Community Foundation this spring. The Community Foundation invited Apter & O’Connor to share their evaluation expertise with the eight local agencies that are recipients of the Performance Management Grant funding. These funds are intended to help organizations assess their effectiveness through better internal data collection and measurement. A few of Dr. Cibula’s key points were:
• Graphic displays are an effective means of converting data to information and conveying that information.
• Probabilities associated with test statistics for samples are the basis for deciding whether true differences or relationships exist in the whole population.
• Most test statistics can be productively considered to be a fraction or ratio of “signal to noise”. Large ratios for a sample generally indicate there’s a real “signal” in the population.
• A statistical approach to understanding program data can provide strong support for reaching program goals and objectives.

Apter & O’Connor is working with one of the grantees, Jowonio School more intensively to assist in the articulation of their model of inclusive programming and develop their organization capacity for systematic tracking of the school’s impact on the children, families, staff and community.