The Oklahoma State Office of Rural Health (SORH) has recognized the importance of evaluating the success of grant initiatives, so much so, that they decided to hire an internal evaluator to analyze grant program outcomes. Oklahoma’s SORH Program Evaluator, Pete Walton, plays an important role in the SORH’s efforts toward accountability. Being on staff allows Walton to have better access to those working on program activities as well as records, history, and important information that may not be available to an external consultant.
According to Walton, it is important to set up effective program measures while writing the grant. He believes it is critical to sit down with all staff and discuss not only the goals of the grant guidance, but also the goals of the office. Taking both priorities into consideration, he then helps staff develop goals and objectives that are meaningful. His next priority is to establish an effective mechanism to capture data to show the impact of activities. He feels it is important to set up an easy system to gather data so that all staff are able to easily input data. This legwork completed prior to the grant beginning sets up the grant program for success. After the grant program begins, data collection can begin immediately since the system is already established. It is then Walton’s responsibility to ensure that everyone is submitting data on grant activities including both internal staff and external contractors. Walton meets regularly with those working on grant activities to review data to make sure activities are on track to achieve outcomes and make course corrections as necessary.
Corie Kaiser, director of Oklahoma’s SORH, says, “Hiring an internal evaluator has been one of our best decisions.” She continues, “Pete has been a great addition to our office and has really helped us to collect data and stories to show outcomes.”
Walton has developed a helpful evaluation template that can be found on NOSORH’s website. As SORHs prepare for the approaching grant writing season, it may be helpful to review this template to make sure grant program goals and objectives are in line with grant and office goals and objectives.
Does your SORH have a “Promising Practice”? We’re interested in the innovative, effective and valuable work that SORHs are doing. Contact Kassie Clarke, Branch editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a short email or phone interview in which you can tell your story.
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