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Whether amplifying the voice of underserved communities or supporting timely, reliable news and reporting, community information projects often face challenges in measuring, communicating, and improving the impact of their activities. By taking readers through 4 essential steps to designing and evaluating a community-based information and media project, this guide highlights relevant and meaningful tools and principles that can be applied to a variety of community and social issues.

Top Takeaways

  1. Community information projects share a common desire to inform and engage their communities and can include a variety of approaches, such as strengthening news sources, amplifying community voices, building capacity to use digital tools, and creating awareness. It can be challenging to understand which outcomes to evaluate, how to learn from analyzing website or social media data, whether the activities are having an impact, and how to strengthen the project and communicate its value to others.
  2. Four essential steps can guide practitioners in designing and evaluating a community information project: describing the project’s key audience, identifying the evaluation’s purpose and key questions, designing the evaluation using effective methods, and translating the evaluation findings into decisions and action.
  3. Several examples provide insight into effective evaluation of community information projects, including The Rapidian (Grand Rapids Community Foundation and the Grand Rapids Community Media Center), Philadelphia Public School Notebook (William Penn Foundation and Knight Foundation), ACTion Alexandria (Knight Foundation), The Florida Independent (Gulf Coast Community Foundation), The Village Square (Knight Foundation), and Amazing County (Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation and Knight Foundation).
Being able to describe basic project activities and the purpose they serve in advancing your goals or mission is essential to creating a meaningful and useful evaluation.