In 2011, Lumina Foundation created the Lumina Latino Student Success effort, investing $12 million over a 4-year period to support potential and current Latino college students, America’s fastest growing student population. Through the Latino Student Success effort, Lumina provided 4 years of funding, technical assistance, and evaluation support to 13 place-based, collaborative initiatives around the country working to increase the percentage of Latino students graduating from college in their communities.
Lumina began partnering with FSG in 2012 to conduct an ongoing initiative-wide evaluation. The evaluation focused on helping Lumina and its implementation partner, Excelencia in Education, strengthen support for the initiative’s 13 sites, and learn about the progress the initiative was making.
During the 3-year engagement, FSG used 3 different evaluation approaches: developmental, formative, and summative to best serve the needs of the Foundation and the sites. Through surveys, in-person and phone interviews, document review, focus groups, and observation, FSG brought a voice to grantees, students, and families and provided insights to the Foundation into grantees’ perspectives, successes, and challenges as they engaged in the work.
In the first year, FSG used a developmental approach designed to provide real-time feedback to the Foundation. This work allowed Lumina, Excelencia in Education, and the sites to better understand how the initiative was taking shape, and identified key areas where sites required additional support. As a result of this learning, one modification made involved revising expectations about the grantees’ data reporting efforts. The shift allowed sites to focus their data collection efforts on indicators that were most meaningful and accessible to them, rather than what the Foundation initially thought was important. Some sites found college access indicators useful, such as FAFSA completion and percentage of students enrolled in college, while others found retention indicators, like percentage of students advancing from one year of college to the next, more useful.
During the second year, a formative evaluation approach was used to explore how the sites were implementing their plans and strategies, as well as what refinements to the initiative might be needed. This work specifically helped Lumina better understand the sites’ efforts in 4 specific areas: use of data for decision-making, sustainability, support for Latino adult learners, and support for Latino students at scale. Lumina shared the evaluation findings with the sites so that they could learn from each other’s work.
In 2015, the last year of the engagement, FSG conducted a summative evaluation to determine what the initiative achieved, summarize lessons learned, and provide an opportunity for Lumina and its grantees to reflect on their accomplishments. Based on the evaluation findings, the initiative contributed to:
- Increasing college enrollment of Latino students in most of the communities supported by the effort
- Increasing staff capacity to appropriately support Latino students in 26 higher education institutions
- Leveraging approximately $48 million in additional funding raised by sites to support Latino student success during the period of the grant and into the future
- Increasing awareness of the urgency of Latino student success among 30 national and local funders
- Developing or strengthening 9 collaborative efforts that hope to continue working to support Latino students after the Lumina grant
FSG and Lumina also used the summative evaluation to learn from the expertise of the grantees who were implementing the work, creating a list of principles of effective practice for place-based collaboratives working to supporting Latino student success, as well as lessons for funders who want to support multi-site, place-based collaborative work. These principles continue to guide the grantee sites working to further advance student success in their communities following the close of the Foundation’s investment in the project.
About Lumina Foundation
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with degrees, certificates, and other high-quality credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina’s outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to
design and build an equitable, accessible, responsive, and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025.