Around the Institute

Let’s Get Gritty!

May 25, 2012

Bipartisanship?! Really?
The Kaiser Family Foundation published the results of their latest poll of the American public—this time on spending in global health projects in the developing world. The majority of Democrats (74%), Republicans (66%), and Independents (66%) around the country believe the US is spending either too little or about the right amount on global health. So, it would seem that most Americans would prefer not to slash funding. Now if only this bipartisanship could translate to, say, Washington DC. Yup, we know. Crazy as a bag of squirrels.

Got Grit?
This week, the ever-reliable AEA365 blog featured a cool idea with great potential to evaluate student academic success: grit. Penn professor Angela Duckworth has spent years researching ways to predict personal achievement and came up with “true grit,” a measure that encompasses traits like tenacity, stamina, perseverance, and passion. Duckworth has shown that grit is more predictive of student success than traditional metrics like IQ. In the same spirit, advocacy evaluators know that it’s often the intangibles—or the darn hard to measure-ibles—that tell us the most about the success of an advocacy effort.

The “Risks” of Funding Advocacy
Our sister program here at the Aspen Institute, the Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation, has just released a special supplement to the Stanford Social Innovation Review on “Advancing Evaluation Practices in Philanthropy.” For you advocacy evaluation enthusiasts out there, make sure to read the piece by Hewlett’s Paul Brest, appropriately titled “Risky Business.” Funding advocacy isn’t like supporting program delivery: there’s higher risk, but also a greater potential for huge rewards…and, of course, even greater challenges for evaluators.