Giving Compass’ Take:
• Connor Burwell shares how researchers can make sure that their research of evidence-backed programs translates into impact.
• How can philanthropists help research follow these guidelines?
• Learn more about the importance of strong communication from scientists.
Researchers and local practitioners are like waiters and customers at a restaurant. If a waiter brings out food that the customer didn’t order, the customer will be confused. In the same way, practitioners receiving evidence from researchers need to help decide what studies should address. Practitioners need to be engaged in all phases of research.
John Scianimanico of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation provided this useful analogy at a recent discussion on encouraging the use of evidence at the local level, cohosted by the Urban Institute and the Forum for Youth Investment.
The discussion revealed three strategies for researchers and policymakers seeking to increase local implementation of evidence-backed programs and policies.
- Develop relationships starting at the first research question: Researchers should engage practitioners and stakeholders at the early stages of their investigations so that program administrators, staff, and others in the community can see how the research questions are relevant to their missions.
- Translate research into understandable language: Local practitioners, especially those working with marginalized populations or communities, can feel disconnected from researchers who use complex, difficult-to-grasp terminology and who often seem removed from people coping with trauma.
- Seek evidence in areas most relevant to programs. The federal government and foundations often make program funding contingent on participating in a formal evaluation or only fund approaches that are already backed by evidence. But these well-intentioned restrictions can create tension with nonprofit practitioners for various reasons.
Read the full article about evidence-backed programs by Connor Burwell at Urban Institute.
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