Measurement Matters
A Quarterly Newsletter for Clients and Friends of EVALCORP
In This Issue
5 Ways to Be More "Evaluation-Friendly"
How to Use GIS Successfully
Special Thanks
About Us
Quick Links

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Volume 1 - Winter 2010

Greetings and Happy New Year!

It is very exciting, although somewhat hard to believe, that we are at the beginning of a new decade!  I personally love this time of year and use it as an opportunity to set goals (yes, that's the Evaluator/Planner in me) and examine where we are, where we intend to be by year-end, and whether any new strategies are needed to get there.  With many possibilities ahead of each of us, I wish you and your staff a very happy and fulfilling new year!

I founded EVALCORP eight years ago out of a desire to provide highly customized planning, applied research and evaluation services.  Throughout each project, we work to turn your data into "actionable" information that you can use to improve your programs and initiatives.  To that end, we are happy to start the new year by sharing "Measurement Matters" with you -- our quarterly e-newsletter with practical information for you and your staff.  

One challenge you might encounter in the evaluation process is staff concerns about its value compared to the work it involves.  We understand that evaluation requires time that often already feels precious.  It is not always immediately obvious how evaluation will help everyone do their jobs better.  In this issue, find out how to help your staff better understand and embrace evaluation.

Then, learn more about GIS mapping and whether it's the right research strategy for your next project.  Plus, check out our latest news at the end of this letter! 

We are regularly inspired by the work you do, and we enjoy both helping and learning from our client partners.  We love to hear from you so please email us with any topics or questions you would like addressed in future issues.

Kristen Donovan
Principal, EVALCORP

5 Ways to Be More "Evaluation-Friendly"Friendly
When evaluation is done right, it helps you and your team achieve outcomes and fulfill your organization's mission.  If evaluation is new to your agency or your experiences have not been very useful, it can seem overwhelming and confusing.  With unfamiliarity often comes resistance.  So here are 5 ways for equipping your staff with the knowledge they need to "make friends" with evaluation and participate productively in your next initiative.  These strategies stem from the work of Dr. Hallie Preskill.* 

1.  Hire an evaluation consultant who incorporates Evaluation Capacity Building (ECB) into their approach.
You want a consultant who provides more than the basic evaluation deliverables.  In addition to developing measurement tools, analyzing findings and providing reports, your consultant should help your team improve their evaluation knowledge and skills so that they are better equipped to engage in future evaluation activities.  An important part of ECB involves "in-process education" on evaluation terms and concepts, design and implementation, and application.  Particularly when your staff know how to apply the findings, they will understand the value of evaluation and your organization's investment in it...  more

 How to Use GIS Successfully: A Case Study
Although the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has been around for many years, it is a technology being used more often to inform prevention activities.  Data mapping has numerous advantages, yet it is not always readily apparent which initiatives will benefit most from its application.  

Over the past several years, the staff at EVALCORP has increasingly applied GIS technology to our work helping clients to inform and measure the impact of environmental prevention initiatives in counties across Southern California.  For instance, we have created maps for clients depicting alcohol-related billboards and documenting oversaturation in predominantly Spanish-speaking communities.  Other maps we created identified 'head shops' (places known to sell drug paraphernalia) including their distances from schools and parks.  Others highlighted where DUI arrests and/or alcohol-involved collisions cluster.  

In 2006, we began developing maps stemming from data collected through Ventura County Behavioral Health Department (VCBH) Alcohol and Drug Programs' Place of Last Drink Survey.  These maps were built to assist the County and their community partners know which retail establishments contributed to the greatest proportion of DUI arrests, as well as the impact impaired driving has on surrounding communities.*  

Simply put, GIS is a tool for analyzing and presenting data visually in the form of maps.  This visual representation of your data makes it quickly digestible for all with whom you need to communicate - your staff, partners, and community alike... more

Pillars of Prevention Award
Our work with Ventura County Behavioral Health (VCBH) Department, Alcohol & Drug Programs - Prevention Services led to some exciting, real-world results.  Helping the community is our best reward, but we have also been honored with the Pillars of Prevention 2009 Award.  We have worked with VCBH since 2006 on numerous applied research/evaluation activities related to alcohol and drug prevention.  Our GIS mapping project (see article above), Place of Last Drink publications, and Social Host Ordinance evaluation efforts assisted VCBH in their prevention planning and measurement activities countywide.  (Pictured: Kristen and Julie with Dan Hicks of VCBH, Alcohol & Drug Programs - Prevention Services.)

Team Member Additions
We are very excited to introduce the latest additions to our team: Shanelle Boyle and Silvia Esqueda!  

Shanelle Boyle, Ph.D., Research Assistant, is an organizational behavior psychologist with seven years of applied research and evaluation experience.  She works with public and private organizations to build their evaluation capacity, and co-wrote the article on which this quarter's 5 Ways to Be More "Evaluation-Friendly" is based.

Silvia Esqueda, M.S., MFT, Project Consultant, is a bilingual/bicultural researcher and licensed therapist, with over 15 years of experience working with families and communities on mental health and substance abuse issues.  She designs and facilitates focus groups, leads community forums on data use, and trains youth and adult community members on data collection.

See bios of Shanelle and Silvia as well as for our whole team.

New San Diego Office
Office in San Diego County
We expanded our Southern California presence last year, and now have offices in Orange County, San Diego and Ventura County. (San Diego County Office, pictured left.)

Presentations FYI
One of our goals each year is to share information with other professionals about the great work our clients are doing.  Following is a brief description of some of the presentations we did this past Fall as well as links to the conference host organizations.

November 12, 2009: American Evaluation Association - Annual Conference in Orlando, FL
Shanelle co-presented with Dr. Hallie Preskill from FSG Social Impact Advisors, "Exploring Effective Strategies for Facilitating Evaluation Capacity Building"

November 5, 2009: Ventura County Behavioral Health Department - DUI Prevention Summit in Ventura, CA
Kristen presented our work with the department's alcohol and drug programs, "Retail Realities: Bars, Clubs and Restaurants as Place of Last Drink"

September 18, 2009: National Prevention Network - Annual Prevention Research Conference in Anaheim, CA
Lisa co-presented with Kim Herbstritt, Catherine Hockmuth and Alex Jacobo-Mares from the Institute for Public Strategies, "Data & Dialogue: Using Research to Address Community Factors that Contribute to Alcohol and Drug Problems"
Special Thanks
We would like to extend our appreciation to the many individuals and client organizations we have been so fortunate to partner with.  Your dedication to data-driven planning and implementation truly inspires us - pushing our work to new levels.  We always look forward to opportunities to collaborate with you.  Thank you, and thanks for reading!
About Us
EVALCORP offers strategic planning, applied research and evaluation services to organizations throughout California and nationwide.  We work with public and private sector organizations in the areas of AOD prevention, HIV prevention, substance abuse treatment, criminal justice, mental health, public health, education, children's services and organization development.  In addition to our methodological expertise, we are known for our pragmatic approach and ability to deliver findings you can use.  Each consulting engagement begins by assessing where our clients are, where they want to go, and how we can help them get there. Learn more...
Our Locations:

T. 949.271.6437 F. 949.271.6301 15615 Alton Parkway, Suite 450 Irvine, CA  92618
VENTURA COUNTY:  T. 805.981.3987 F. 805.988.0570 300 E. Esplanade Drive, Suite 900 Oxnard, CA  93036
SAN DIEGO COUNTY:  T. 619.528.2235 F. 619.528.2297 3111 Camino Del Rio North, Suite 400 San Diego, CA 92108