Start Up Program Management Program Enhancements  Accountability


Toolkit Welcome

Program Evaluation Overview

Reporting to Stakeholders

Starting a Program Evaluation

Data Tracking

Tutorial on Assessment Plans

Program Renewal Through SWOT Analysis

Reporting and Records Retention


Starting a Program Evaluation

After nearly seventeen years of investing in student scholarships, The Ford Family Foundation determined that they should undertake an in-depth, retrospective analysis to better understand the impact of the Ford Scholars Program on its Scholars.

The intent of the evaluation was to obtain data that measured monetary as well as non-monetary outcomes of the program. The first step was to draft a set of questions which would guide the evaluation process; this was done under the watchful eye of the Foundation’s Directors. Next, a Request for Qualifications and Proposal (RFQP) was developed and disseminated on a national level. Sam Rennick of the Ford Family Foundation found that evaluating a scholarship program is neither easy nor inexpensive – but it is immensely important. He offers these observations and suggestions to other providers who may be deciding to conduct evaluation: 

  • Early on, the Foundation made a strategic decision to retain a consultant familiar with evaluation techniques and protocols and who was well-connected in the evaluation world. This proved to be immensely helpful.

  • The evaluation focused on five guiding questions: 

  1. What are the key Ford Scholars Program outcomes in relation to retention, bachelor’s degree attainment, indebtedness, employment, community service, etc.? Would recipients have attended college directly after high school without this scholarship?

  2. What evidence is available to show that the outcomes were worth the investment?

  3. How did receiving scholarship funding contribute to Ford Scholars being successful citizens (see Core Values) and creating vital communities?

  4. What scholarship enhancements (counseling, summer conferences, director letters, yearly planners, etc.) were most meaningful to the Scholars and specifically how did they enrich their educational experience?

  5. To what extent has the recruitment and selection process attracted the desired applicants and scholarship recipients as outlined in the original guidelines developed when the program was created? 

  • The Foundation was open to a broad scope of proposals. During the review and decision process, the Foundation considered large-scale comprehensive evaluations, as well as several smaller scale evaluation proposals. The expected funding level for either a single large-scale evaluation or a combination of smaller evaluations was in the $50,000 - $100,000 range.

  • Once the RFQP was completed, the document was distributed to members of the Oregon Program Evaluators Network (OPEN) ( as well as the American Evaluation Association (AEA) ( The Foundation was pleased to receive twenty proposals from organizations across the country. A small number of those proposals were then selected and those agencies were invited to present and discuss their plan with the proposal selection team.

The firm which was ultimately chosen proposed a mixed method design that gathered both quantitative and qualitative data. It incorporated the use of existing data maintained by the Foundation as well as web-based surveys, focus groups, and observations. The evaluation design also included a comparison group of finalists who were not selected as Ford Scholars.

While the results of the project will not be available until later this year, The Ford Family Foundation is confident the outcomes measured will help them determine whether the Ford Scholars Program has stayed true to the founder’s intent and will help provide critical information on ways to improve key features of the program in the future.

Source: Sam Rennick, Director of Scholarship Programs, Ford Family Foundation 


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