Research for Global Development

Evaluation of U.S. Department of State Educational and Cultural Grants in Afghanistan


Countries: Afghanistan

Challenge

As part of its efforts to support the development of Afghan civil society, the Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul awarded nearly 200 grants in the areas of education and culture across all six regions of Afghanistan. Intermedia, along with Kabul-based Opinion Research Center of Afghanistan (ORCA), was hired to help evaluate the effectiveness of these grants; ascertain what is and is not working; and why programs were successful or not. PAS wanted to understand the degree to which the grants were furthering the following program goals: increased engagement (particularly with youth); a strengthened educational system; and an enhanced civil society support system that enables Afghan organizations to take direct roles in delivering assistance.

Approach

InterMedia and ORCA addressed the methodological challenges presented by a set of grants that were geographically, thematically and programmatically diverse. The technical approach grouped five program objectives and 10 key questions into four evaluation criteria to allow for deep dives into each grant, while maintaining comparability across grants and grant categories. The evaluation criteria were:

  • Knowledge & Skills;
  • Attitudes & Behaviors;
  • Engagement & Linkages; and
  • Satisfaction

These criteria were derived from the PAS program objectives and key questions.  Four research elements were used: a background assessment of all grants; evaluation panels; focus group discussions; and in-depth interviews. The data from these research elements were used to assess the performance of these grants against the four specific evaluation criteria.

Insight

The findings from year one of the assessments provided ratings for each of the grant programs against the four specific evaluation criteria, along with detailed explanations for those ratings. This allowed the U.S. Embassy to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of a wide range of grant programs; and to draw tactical and strategic conclusions for their broader efforts to build civil society in Afghanistan. The findings also revealed greater demand for educational and skill building programs over cultural programs; for programs tailored to women and other targeted local beneficiaries; and for programs that magnify their impact through long-term sustainability and knowledge sharing.

InterMedia

Evaluation of U.S. Department of State Educational and Cultural Grants in Afghanistan


Countries: Afghanistan

Challenge

As part of its efforts to support the development of Afghan civil society, the Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul awarded nearly 200 grants in the areas of education and culture across all six regions of Afghanistan. Intermedia, along with Kabul-based Opinion Research Center of Afghanistan (ORCA), was hired to help evaluate the effectiveness of these grants; ascertain what is and is not working; and why programs were successful or not. PAS wanted to understand the degree to which the grants were furthering the following program goals: increased engagement (particularly with youth); a strengthened educational system; and an enhanced civil society support system that enables Afghan organizations to take direct roles in delivering assistance.

Approach

InterMedia and ORCA addressed the methodological challenges presented by a set of grants that were geographically, thematically and programmatically diverse. The technical approach grouped five program objectives and 10 key questions into four evaluation criteria to allow for deep dives into each grant, while maintaining comparability across grants and grant categories. The evaluation criteria were:

  • Knowledge & Skills;
  • Attitudes & Behaviors;
  • Engagement & Linkages; and
  • Satisfaction

These criteria were derived from the PAS program objectives and key questions.  Four research elements were used: a background assessment of all grants; evaluation panels; focus group discussions; and in-depth interviews. The data from these research elements were used to assess the performance of these grants against the four specific evaluation criteria.

Insight

The findings from year one of the assessments provided ratings for each of the grant programs against the four specific evaluation criteria, along with detailed explanations for those ratings. This allowed the U.S. Embassy to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of a wide range of grant programs; and to draw tactical and strategic conclusions for their broader efforts to build civil society in Afghanistan. The findings also revealed greater demand for educational and skill building programs over cultural programs; for programs tailored to women and other targeted local beneficiaries; and for programs that magnify their impact through long-term sustainability and knowledge sharing.

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