Equitable relationships must be built with the people who are directly and indirectly involved with the program or affected by the evaluation. This means taking the time to identify and hear from key voices who have perspectives about the program and community. During this process, you will learn more about the program in relation to participants, community members, local context, and broader context. This learning process embraces multiple perspectives, illuminates power dynamics, and informs the composition of the evaluation team. NAAEE’s Community Engagement Guidelines provide insights on building your understanding of a community’s natural, economic, and social systems.
eeVAL Tips to build equitable relationships
A1. Learn About the Community
Learn about the people being served by the program. Speak with program participants and community members. Dig into the context of the program and its history. Be curious about power dynamics and how they might play out for the evaluation.
A2. Identify Evaluation Partners
eeVAL can and should not be done alone. Be thoughtful about who participates in a program evaluation. Involve project partners and participants as team members, designers, decision-makers, and implementers of the evaluation from the start. If your organization is small or under-resourced, individuals who are directly and indirectly involved with or affected by the program can be called upon to support an evaluation. While one or two people may be accountable for the evaluation, decision-making should be shared.
A3. Allocate Resources with Intention
Take stock of available resources for evaluation and allocate them in ways that are equitable across partners, participants, and community members. Consider both human and capital resources, such as staff time, project partners’ time, funding, technology, materials, office space, civic capacity, in-kind donations, and more.
A4. Compensate Project Partners
Compensate individuals who co-create and participate in the evaluation. Compensation shows you value their time and contributions and is especially important if you are engaging individuals from marginalized communities. Compensation can include monetary and other benefits. Ask individuals what they would value in exchange for their time.
Explore the Values
We encourage you to investigate how each value is incorporated into the evaluation process.
Explore the Evaluation Process
Explore other elements of evaluation to drive excellence in your environmental education program design, build stronger and more equitable relationships, contribute to meaningful experiences, and yield equitable outcomes.