Partners for Impact has been working on the Kaleidoscope Project since 2019. It has moved through very different phases. During the first four years, the focus was on improvising places and spaces in order to support the social-emotional well-being of young children. We learned some lessons and the Kaleidoscope Project began to focus on the systems that make black and brown children vulnerable in the first place. As a result, they worked with the John Rex Endowment to pilot a model of community-based philanthropy that is described in the Beacon Ridge Project.
Our role, as evaluators, has been to gather data, share it as soon as possible with the Kaleidoscope Project staff. In turn, adaptations have been made along the way. We call this the dance of developmental evaluation. It involves flexibility to adapt based on learnings while maintaining forward momentum. We build in regular check-ins so stakeholders stay motivated by progress. And we create processes that surface insights to improve initiatives while still implementing at a thoughtful pace.
It’s a delicate balancing act, but one we’ve honed over years of managing evaluations focused on complex community change. When done right, the approach uncovers discoveries that can redirect an entire initiative toward more meaningful and equitable outcomes. Just like with the Kaleidoscope Project.
The result is evaluation that evolves alongside the initiatives it assesses rather than remaining a static, external process. With ongoing stakeholder participation, we can course-correct in real time instead of waiting for final reports. It’s inspiring to watch services transform along the way.
So while developmental evaluation requires more time and coordination, we’ve seen firsthand how valuable it is for driving systemic change.