One cornerstone priority of the National Fund is to engage in system change activities at the national and regional level. The National Fund’s systems change agenda is designed to support funder collaboratives and industry partnerships' efforts to influence national workforce policy, including partnering in national initiatives to promote changes in employer and institutional practices.
The original evaluation of the National Fund in 2007 focused primarily on measuring progress against the original five-year goals of the National Fund. In 2010, as part of applying for and receiving a federal grant from the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), an evaluation based on quasi-experimental design was developed to provide insight into the effectiveness of the National Fund/SIF-funded programs. The evaluation tests the programs’ success in promoting the employment and career advancement of low-income individuals (unemployed and incumbent workers) while meeting the needs of employers for a skilled workforce.
In addition, an annual evaluation of all National Fund collaboratives has been conducted since 2009. This evaluation is primarily focused on tracking progress against goals and studying selected topics to draw lessons from the National Fund experience.
In 2012-2013, a new strategic framework labeled National Fund 2.0 was developed for the second five years of the National Fund with the following major goals:
- Improve public systems and employer practices;
- Expand and deepen impact; and
- Promote learning and continuous improvement.
The framework’s specific new objectives included a focus on measuring business impact to determine value to employers and an emphasis on learning and continuous improvement.
Evaluation and Learning Framework
To support the goals and objectives laid out in National Fund 2.0, an Evaluation and Learning Framework was developed in 2014 to describe the multiple evaluation and learning efforts associated with the National Fund.
National Fund 2.0 recognizes that regional collaboratives also conduct their own evaluation and learning projects besides contributing to the national effort. From its inception, the National Fund has required regional collaboratives to have a local evaluator to support their efforts.
Data collection for the National Fund is carried out at the operational level by regional collaboratives. Data collection on individuals served is typically conducted by workforce development, education, and training providers engaged by industry partnerships. Data collection on systems change and employer efforts is collected by regional collaboratives or their contractors and intermediaries that manage systems change efforts or organize industry partnerships.
Analysis and Interpretation
As can be seen from the National Fund’s Evaluation and Learning Framework, data analysis is being conducted by a range of evaluators, both national and local, who are working with National Fund staff as well as staff at regional collaboratives and industry partnerships.
Workforce Learning Strategies was the original vendor responsible for the evaluation during the first five years of the National Fund. Since then, Program and Policy Insight, LLC has taken the lead in aggregating data from regional collaboratives and industry partnerships—as well as in analyzing data on industry partnerships and the individuals participants they serve.
IMPAQ International LLC was selected to conduct the evaluation study for the SIF grant on the impact on labor market outcomes of individual participants.
Staff from Jobs for the Future, where the National Fund has been based since 2007, has been involved in supporting the implementation of the National Fund and its evaluation and learning activities.
Select Local Evaluations
Regional collaboratives undergo independent evaluations that assess their effectiveness in measuring impact in achieving workforce development goals. Below are several examples of collaborative evaluation findings:
- Partners for a Competitive Workforce: Participant Employment and Earnings Outcomes (1st Quarter 2007 - 2nd Quarter 2012)
- CareerEdge Funders Collaborative Evaluator Report (Second Quarter, 2012)
- Workforce Central 2008-2011 Evaluation
- Greater Cincinnati Workforce Network: 2009 Annual Evaluation Report
- The San Diego Workforce Funders Collaborative Annual Evaluation Report: Partnering in New Ways to Build San Diego County's Healthcare and Biotech Workforce
- Workforce Central: Phase One Evaluation