Trainings & Workshops | Model Sites | Events | Creating Awareness
No matter how many resources you develop, how widely you disseminate them, and how many people you train, you can't control how many people actually use your project. For this reason, it can be very difficult to gauge impact, particularly as it pertains to changing behavior. One strategy to help you and your evaluator ascertain the effectiveness of your resources, and even measure the potential impact of your project, is to create model or demonstration sites. A model site brings together local representatives of the national partners and facilitates their working together using project resources in an intensive, controlled manner.
Work with your evaluator as you develop your model site concept to decide what you will evaluate and how. What are the goals of your educational outreach efforts? Do you want to follow a small group of participants, such as end-user students, with pre- and post-tests? Do you want to return to participants six months later to gauge long-term impact? What commitment do sites need to make regarding their involvement in the evaluation? (This should be made clear in the original RFP.)
Support your model sites with mini-grants, like the ones you offer to PTV stations. The local public television station may, in fact, be the lead for your model site, receiving the grant and distributing it as appropriate among the partners. You should also plan to provide multilevel support to your model sites. While it is easier to keep track of and support the activities of only 10 to 20 model sites, they will still need encouragement and support, and they will benefit from sharing ideas among their peers through a listserv or periodic conference call.
For its Building Big educational outreach, WGBH established 10 model communities, bringing together local public television station with local chapters of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Community Technology Centers Network, and the American Society of Civil Engineers (and in some cases a science and technology center). The station representatives were trained in the series resources; the collaborating agencies split a $13,000 stipend, as well as receiving all the series resources.
Model community sites were given a set of minimum requirements:
- Host a one-day community build-a-thon.
- Contribute five "Local Wonders" projects to the Web site.
- Organize 10 "Activity Hour" sessions (hands-on activities in classrooms or after-school settings).
- Create other opportunities to share the project with members of the community through lecture series, local programs, or work with ongoing science and engineering initiatives to incorporate the project.
- Reach a minimum of 2,000 participants.
While this list may look demanding, WGBH received 24 applications for the 10 grants. An additional 10 stations also participated in the model communities initiative, receiving all resources except the grant money.