The paper evaluates the potential of the Career Bridge Program as an initiative of the City of Metropolis’ Human Services Department and Office of Economic Development in partnership with the Metropolis Jobs Initiative.
B: Scope of Work
B1. Evaluation Questions
With respect to the program under analysis, a set of tentative evaluation questions may be developed in order to clarify probable efficiency of the project as a whole. They can be listed as follows:
Why the program should be implemented? (Clarification of urgency, need and key determinants)
What are the desired outcomes/ goals? (For direct initiators: What is planned to be accomplished during the next month/ quarter/ year?)
What activities are to be implemented in order to achieve the objectives set by the program?
What indicators will demonstrate the progress towards the anticipated outcomes?
Answering these questions will provide an auditor with an opportunity to (a) justify whether the program is necessary; (b) whether it will be capable to address the needs of the targeted population; (c) whether the planned activities will assist in achieving the goals; (d) what will be their quality and quantity characteristics; (e) how the progress will be measured; (f) whether funding the program will be reasonable in terms of the cost-benefit appropriateness.
B2-5. Process and Outcome Indicators
First and foremost, understanding the potential of the analyzed program is linked to the identification if the appropriate process (PI) and outcome indicators (OI) correlate with one another and if they will likely to achieve the set objectives. This information is summarized in Table 1 below.
Projected Process and Outcome Indicators
|Outcome 1: To assist individuals with multiple barriers to educational and economic opportunity to attain the skills and opportunities needed to access career pathways|
|1.1 To ensure the access to mentoring support||1.1.1 At least 20 mentoring support providers, which represent the city social work field, will be engaged in the project by the end of first year (PI)|
|1.1.2 Providers will be interviewed in terms of the program duration and improvement of the accessibility to mentoring services of the intended population groups (PI)|
|1.1.3 Target groups will obtain mentoring support services (OI)|
|1.2 To offer educational and job readiness services||1.2.1 Engagement of local educational establishments (at least 10) in order to arrange and provide the educational services to the targeted population (PI)|
|1.2.2 Providers report on the educational procedure and results of the service delivery (PI)|
|1.2.3 The intended audience gains an opportunity to pursue a career of their own choice (OI)|
|Outcome 2: To improve the quality of life of the vulnerable category of Minneapolis residents|
|2.1 To offer necessary social services to the intended group of population in order to increase their overall quality of life||2.1.1 Arrangement of long-lasting partnerships with local community businesses and officials to provide social services, including transportation, housing, and childcare for the target audience (PI)|
|2.1.2 Social service providers report on their assistance to the residents in addressing the aforementioned needs (PI)|
|2.1.3 The vulnerable community gains higher-quality life opportunities|
To evaluate the relevance of the above-indicated anticipated outcomes with respect to addressing the current needs of the target audience, a mixed method approach should be applied as a central study design. On the one hand, the qualitative research design will be focused on a phenomenological exploration, which is related to studying the social phenomenon from the respondents’ lived experience perspective. This part of evaluation will be put into practice through interviewing of a diversified sample representing different stakeholders with relation to the program. These participants will involve (a) key planners of the project, three representatives from each agency discussed, (b) four city officials (two-three representatives of the educational and social field), (c) four local providers of postsecondary education, and (d) four respondents offering job readiness training. Hence, this part of the sample will comprise of 24-26 respondents. They will be interviewed using semi-structured interviews involving the posed evaluation questions (as a guide but not a directive), with an approximate duration of 30-40 minutes each. The formal ethics approval will be obtained from the recruited participants, while the anonymity of their personal data will be granted to maintain trustworthy auditor-to-respondent relationships. In this way, it will be likely to obtain more credible and valid information concerning the issue.
On the other hand, a quantitative element of the inquiry (e.g. an online survey), based on a number of participants engaged in the evaluation procedure, will be ample evidence of possible generalizations. Whereas the program is planned to provide services for at least 120 individuals, the sample has to be of such size as well. This part of the sample will engage the representatives of the target audience, i.e. low-income minorities, the ones who were incarcerated and cannot find a job, and the immigrants who are limited English proficient. Recruitment and selection of the participants will be twofold. First, the auditor will seek for assistance of corresponding social care services via purposive sampling. Second, one will attempt to reach the participants via social media using snowball sampling: e.g. publish an advertisement with an invitation to participate in the program evaluation in the local media and online social networks. The survey questionnaire will be developed using the evaluation questions which will be open-ended to allow the respondents to expand on the topic. An online data collection technique will be favorable in this case. First, it is related to anonymity of the participants that entices openness in responding the questions increasing trustworthiness and credibility of the data to be obtained. Second, this approach to the research procedure allows collecting sufficient data from numerous participants within a short period of time. For instance, one of such questions may be formulated as follows:
What services you would like to receive to improve your current life conditions?
- Educational (Please explain your choice)
- Social (Please explain your choice)
- Job-related training (Please explain your choice)
- Housing (Please explain your choice)
- Transportation (Please explain your choice)
- Child care (Please explain your choice)
- Financial aid (Please explain your choice)
- Your answer (Please explain your choice)
From this perspective, the data collection will allow identification of the exact needs of the sample to be capable to address them in a justified and well thought-out manner at the implementation stage. Also, this tool will enable the researcher to clarify if the proposed project activities would require any adjustments before they are implemented. Additionally, it will be possible to understand which outcomes are desired by possible direct participants of the program.
Apart from that, each of the data collection techniques have to be piloted in order to ensure that the questions as they are formulated in the questionnaire will provide explicit answers to the evaluation questions. In this way, the auditor has to recruit at least 1 respondent from each qualitative group (4-5) and at least four respondents from the quantitative category. The preliminary evaluation of these initial findings will enable one to realize if the proposed evaluation strategy will work out in terms of providing answers to the research questions and if any amendments have to be done before the main inquiry. Moreover, the time needed for recruitment, selection and interviewing of the participants as well as the elements of the interview duration (time, possibility to use a dictaphone, etc.) can be determined in this regard. After the assessment of pre-testing results, the auditor will conduct the main evaluation by means of interviewing and surveying the recruited participants.
To minimize the time needed to analyze and interpret data, technical software for qualitative and mixed method researches will be applied, for instance NVivo. This tool provides an opportunity to quickly detect the frequency of themes in textual data, which is time-efficient in regard to data interpretation. Further, descriptive interpretative phenomenological analysis will be applied in order to classify these themes and use them or reject them as answers to the evaluation questions.
B-6. Budget Form
Overall, the research will be time-consuming, especially if it will be implemented by one auditor rather than a team. The proposed funding for the evaluation of the program`s efficiency and its implementation is listed below.
- Salaries and wages: The average pay for an auditor is $51,750 per year. In case an evaluation is planned in shorter terms, the salary will be less. In agencies implementing such programs salaries are determined by employers.
- Fringe benefits: This part of budget is linked to sponsorship costs which will be heavily encouraged by those responsible for the project implementation. Businessmen residing in Minneapolis will be contacted for assistance in this community endeavor, and at least $200,000 are planned to be obtained from them. This budget entry will be used to pay salaries.
- Professional services agreements: Whereas the project itself is to be based on inter-sector partnerships, i.e. involving professionals from different spheres, the payments vary in this regard. Nonetheless, trainers, social workers and educators can be paid a fee per consultation. Although the project implementation requires high-level qualification, the fees cannot correspond to those related to the general industry or specific degrees. Hence, an approximate sum of $300,000-350,000 will be required to provide services to 120 participants of the program.
- Capital equipment: At least $5,000 will be necessary to equip learning classes.
- Materials and supplies: For the auditor, licensed full NVivo software will cost at least $670. Other items in this category are determined by the specificities of the activities of the program, though approximately $20,000 will be needed per year.
- Publications: Media advertisement aimed at attracting people to participate in the program and at promotion of the project will require approximately $2,000. Social media publications may be developed on a free basis.
- Travel: The travel costs are not included in the context of the project.
- Computer time: The auditor’s computer supply will not be paid for. On the contrary, sustaining computer operations for the project implementation would require at least $5,000-7,000 per year.
- Subrecipient agreement: this part of the project, either an evaluation or an implementation phase, will not be funded.
Facilities and administrative (F&A) costs: Facilities and administrative (F&A) costs: this part of the project will be linked to the two agencies-initiators.
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