This post originally appeared on the Connecticut Health Foundation's blog, to view the original post click here.
BACKGROUND (by Yolanda): In late 2014 the Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health) commissioned an in-depth evaluation of its Health Leadership Fellows Program (HLFP). This signature program had been running for a decade and it was time to determine its impact and effectiveness.
As a learning organization, CT Health believed it was important to undergo this important process. While several foundation-led leadership programs across the country reached a similar milestone around the same time, we understand from our philanthropic colleagues that commissioning an outcomes evaluation while pausing the program to reflect and redesign is somewhat unusual. We engaged the Innovation Network, a non-profit evaluation firm that has been working with us since 2010, to conduct the study.
EVALUATION SUMMARY (by Johanna and Katherine): In the course of the project, along with CT Health, we identified a set of research questions to guide the evaluation. These questions were predominantly focused on whether or not the Health Leadership Fellows Program fulfilled three goals:
To determine whether or not the program achieved the above goals, we spoke with a wide range of people who were familiar with the program and the field of health equity more broadly in Connecticut. We incorporated the perspectives and feedback of at least six foundation staff and HLFP faculty, the insights of 135 HLFP alumni fellows (70% of all fellows), and recommendations from four external experts. We compiled and compared information about 13 comparable leadership programs to inform our evaluation and recommendations.
As a result of the data we collected, we learned that the fellows program has fulfilled the first two goals – to develop knowledge and skills; to increase number of people of color at decision making tables. The HLFP has not yet fulfilled the third goal – to provide Fellows with knowledge and skills to change systems and policies.
Additional key findings:
We invite you to click through details of the evaluation here:
As a result of the data and findings, recommendations were made to CT Health for how to strengthen the program, to clarify the contribution of the program to the foundation’s strategic plan, and to further develop the network. These recommendations have been taken up and further developed by CT Health.
CT HEALTH’S RESPONSE AND NEXT STEPS (by Yolanda): We learned a great deal from the evaluation about the important contributions the HLFP has made to health equity in the state over the past decade. With the findings and recommendations from the evaluation, we have redesigned our program to focus on public policy advocacy and adaptive leadership to advance systems change for health equity. The new program will begin in January 2017. CT Health will share more details on the new program in the coming months as we begin recruiting prospective participants.
Secondly, we have partnered with Health Equity Solutions, a new health equity advocacy organization and CT Health grantee, to work more intensively with the HLFP alumni network. Our fantastic fellows are promoting health equity everyday in their organizations and communities. And we know there is so much more we can accomplish together.
We are excited about this next phase of our leadership program!