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Case Story: The MacArthur Foundation’s Approach to Evaluation and Learning

In October 2018, the MacArthur Foundation convened a meeting of its evaluation and learning partners. At the time, Grassroots Solutions had been working for a year and a half with the Climate Solutions team. That meeting represented the first opportunity for Christina Kuo and me to meet with our client and their other consultants to reflect on what was working well and ongoing tensions in our work.

With encouragement from the Foundation’s Office of Evaluation, Christina and I found that sharing our experiences and hearing others’ perspectives helped us gain a more comprehensive understanding of how to support MacArthur’s approach to strategy, evaluation, and learning. We left that meeting energized and eager to participate in establishing a community of practice of the Foundation’s evaluation and learning partners, which continues to meet regularly to reflect on challenges and successes and to swap ideas.

In 2020, I cowrote a case story to share what I and the Foundation’s other partners learned about MacArthur’s approach to evaluation and learning. One important takeaway highlighted in the case story is the importance of relationship building and that building a strong support network of evaluators improved the value of our respective work. I hope this and other takeaways we documented can be helpful to foundations and evaluators who, like us, continue to grapple and experiment with ways to get the most out of evaluation to drive informed decision making, promote transparency in the social sector, and advance equity and justice.


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