STARS Spotlight: The Art of Learning & Evaluation


For this month’s STARS Spotlight, we sat down with FRIENDS FIRST Learning & Evaluation Manager, Leah Galvin, to learn more about the work being done to ensure high quality data tracking and analysis is being recorded for the thousands of students we serve each year, for the purposes of program improvement. Leah started at FRIENDS FIRST in 2017, and brings a wealth of expertise to the table that has helped focus our evaluation efforts in ways that will drive the work of FRIENDS FIRST.

Why is Evaluation important for FRIENDS FIRST?

Evaluation is important because we owe it to our kids to make sure that we are doing what we say we’re doing and so that we can better serve our kids in future programs by building on program successes.

What are some of the things that you’re focused on in the next year that will better serve our students?

Right now the organization is in a season of fierce focus. We are revisiting our program goals, objectives, and outcomes, to ensure they meet the needs of our students. We are also realigning those goals, objectives, and outcomes with curriculum and program activities to ensure that we can achieve these intended outcomes.

What is the biggest challenge for a nonprofit like FRIENDS FIRST in L&E?

One of the biggest challenges is juggling different funding streams and the variations in outcomes and objectives specific to those funding streams. Also making sure that we have enough quality data that can speak to those specific funding needs.

What do we do really well right now in Learning & Evaluation?

FRIENDS FIRST, for an organization as small it is, has put a large emphasis on learning and evaluation and has really backed that up with the necessary resources. We have an external evaluator we use and we have two full-time internal staff all dedicated to our evaluation efforts. That just goes to show the importance that the agency puts on the work that this department does in helping us achieve our mission. That’s unique in nonprofits of our size.

What do you like about the work FRIENDS FIRST does?

It’s important to invest in young people, and this organization has a really innovative approach to doing that. We are dedicating our internal focus, strategy and resources to bettering those programs for our kids. It takes a lot to actually do that versus just saying you do that. I see that happening in all aspects of the organization and I love that.

*If you would like to donate specifically to helping FRIENDS FIRST with program improvement, please get in touch with Development Manager Sabra Jewell, by emailing sjewell@friendsfirst.org or calling 720.981.9193.

#fundraising #nonprofitevaluation #learningevaluation #SupportMentoring #Mentoring #mentoringprograms #STARSmentoring #GivingTuesday

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