A common challenge for youth programming (including character virtue development) is that organizations do not possess the knowledge and resources to effectively evaluate their programs. The Character Virtue Development Evaluation Capacity Building Initiative (CVD ECB) is designed to immediately increase the capacity of participating staff from character virtue development (CVD) programs to evaluate, improve, defend, and seek funding for their programs. The Initiative will target promising school and non-school based programs that emphasize the development and strengthening of character and virtues such as honesty, generosity, forgiveness, diligence, thrift, joy, curiosity, and humility. A subset of programs that target adolescents and programs hosted by religious organizations will be recruited to participate in the Initiative. The Initiative is intended as a “proof of concept” for an innovative approach to sustained capacity building that includes the development of a cohort of evaluation professionals who will be trained in Evolutionary Evaluation (EE), Person-Centered Analysis (PCA), Evaluative Thinking (ET) and facilitation of the Systems Evaluation Protocol (SEP) so that they can be paired with CVD programs seeking evaluation support. This networked cohort of trained program and evaluation professionals will then provide an essential foundation for a fundamental cultural and pedagogical shift toward high quality evaluation work across the broader landscape of CVD programs that will ultimately lead to more effective CVD programming in youth serving settings. The Big Questions the Initiative aims to address are: (1) Can evaluation capacity building activities strengthen the effectiveness of CVD programs?, and (2) Can the Initiative serve as a “proof-of-concept” for developing the evaluation capacity of character virtue development practitioners and evaluators?
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