Engaging evaluation champions: strategies to build evaluation capacity and promote data-informed decision making in youth development

Theresa N. Melton, Ashlee L. Sjogren, Jennifer P. Agans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Youth development researchers and practitioners share an interest in ensuring that youth development programs contribute positively to youth outcomes. Engaging in evaluation and data-informed decision making (DIDM) has the potential to empower practitioners to improve and adapt programs, improving youth outcomes. Yet, not all practitioners are comfortable engaging in evaluation and/or DIDM. Engaging in partnerships and utilizing internal supporters of evaluations (or “champions”) have been identified as potential strategies to build evaluation capacity and strengthen DIDM within an organization. However, little research explores how to do so. This study engaged evaluation champions in four states to examine their experience as they partnered with practitioners within their organization. Results suggest that peer groups can be utilized to promote evaluation capacity, especially by utilizing peers that already have an interest in evaluation. Practitioner engagement can also be developed by using less academic jargon in communication, highlighting the practical value of evaluation, and building capacity slowly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102458
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
StatePublished - Oct 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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