​Learning Together: Using Evaluation to Connect Veteran Collaboratives - Bob Woodruff Foundation

​Learning Together: Using Evaluation to Connect Veteran Collaboratives

As of November 1, 2020, National Veterans Intermediary (NVI) is called the Local Partner Network. Older content may reference our original name.

Over the last five years, community Veteran collaboratives have formed across the country in order to comprehensively recognize and support military and Veterans and their Families. They are exploring appropriate community-level goals, best practices, and appropriate short- and mid-range indicators. But the Veteran collaborative space hasn’t had a coherent, relevant network or framework of shared outcomes that would allow groups to work together to learn from each other, share practices, and demonstrate impact.

In November, the American Evaluation Association (AEA) hosted a panel discussion, “Learning Together: Using Evaluation to Connect Veteran Collaboratives.” Panelists included leaders in Veteran community research and several of the leading community Veteran collaboratives:

They presented on their efforts to define, measure, and push policy change around veteran transition. Moving from learning to action is what community Veteran collaboratives have been all about, particularly in ways that relate to last year’s conference theme.

We want to share some key takeaways from this panel — some of these may inform decisions you are facing or offer guidance that you can implement in your organization:

Learning to enhance evaluation practices

  • Community collaboratives are laboratories for effective program design
  • Instead of focusing on particular programs or funding options, they are neutral sites for collaboration, testing and piloting innovative interventions
  • Panelists compared data and experiences to arrive at promising practices for designing veteran transition programs

Learning what works and why

  • Community collaboratives operate across diverse sectors:
    • employment
    • education
    • behavioral and primary health care
    • community building
  • Collaboratives have been designing evaluation methods that are relevant across sectors
  • Working together, they’ve identified methods that provide useful information in real-time

Learning from others

  • Information relating to veteran support and eligibility has characterized as an overwhelming and confusing “sea of goodwill”

Learning About Evaluation Users and Uses

  • Community collaboratives have been incorporating military cultural competence in their work to streamline access to services and design helpful interfaces for information

The coherent, relevant framework that the Veteran collaborative space has been lacking is arriving now through our work at NVI. Part of that work is staying on the leading edge of learning and evaluation. According to the research of Michael Quinn Patton, PhD–evaluation expert and former President of the American Evaluation Association (AEA)–most evaluation efforts focus on a few points of service delivery and lack the information and rigor needed for broad application and adaptation of services. Rigor, breadth of scope, and excellent, useful data are always top of mind as we learn together with our NVI Local Partners.

Please see the attached slides from the session: Learning Together Nov 2017 Slide Presentation

Do you have questions? Please email [email protected] for more information.