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How to Prove Your Youth Program is Rockin’

by Mandi Singleton Are you passionate about making a difference in the lives of youth? Many of my clients are, and the time, effort, and money they put into creating killer programs is proof enough that they are invested in forming positive and meaningful experiences for the young people that they work with.  BUT, how do program directors really know they are creating quality experiences for youth? How exactly is this measured? By the size of smiles on youth’s faces? Perhaps by tracking enrollment, attendance, and engagement? Maybe a youth satisfaction survey? These are all good answers – but I’ll let you in on a well-known secret; there’s a tool designed specifically for this purpose: The Youth Program Quality Assessment (PQA).   The PQA is a research-based tool developed by The...

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Secrets from the Data Cave, October 2014

by Sarah McCrudenWelcome to CRC’s monthly series of articles on all things techie: Secrets from the Data Cave! (For those who don’t know, the title references our room — fondly referred to as “the bat cave”— where data staff can geek out in an isolated setting.) Here we’ll be offering you a fascinating sneak peek into the cave, with the latest updates & tips on what we’re implementing here at CRC!Access vs. Excel: Which Will Reign Supreme (for your storage needs)Access and its less showy cousin, Excel, are both good options for data storage. In this installment of Secrets from the Data Cave, I'll highlight some things to consider when deciding between using Excel and Access for your data storage needs.I should start by saying that Excel CAN do a lot...

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EYEO 2014 RECAP

by Sheila MatanoLast week, I attended the EYEO festival for the first time. EYEO is unique in that it brings together experts from a wide variety of fields (e.g. computer science, engineering, data design, cartography, etc.) to showcase their work.  There were a number of great presentations, and below are some of my favorites. Sarah Williams: DigitalMatatus, Visualizing InformalitySarah Williams is currently an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and the Director of the Civic Data Design Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture and Planning. The Civic Data Design Lab employs data visualization and mapping techniques to expose and communicate urban patterns and policy issues to broader audiences. In her presentation, Sarah talked about how her team worked with Kenyan Universities and Nairobi’s growing technology sector to collect...

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Secrets from the Data Cave, May 2014

by Sarah McCrudenWelcome to CRC’s monthly series of articles on all things techie: Secrets from the Data Cave! (For those who don’t know, the title references our room — fondly referred to as “the bat cave”— where data staff can geek out in an isolated setting.) Here we’ll be offering you a fascinating sneak peek into the cave, with the latest updates & tips on what we’re implementing here at CRC!May 2014:  The Difficult Database, Part 1: The Data Monster            In my experience working with relational databases, I’ve seen it all: the good, the bad, and the very ugly in data-keeping practices.  I’ve learned a lot about wrangling data in an unruly database. While plenty of problems I see are caused by a complicated combination of elements...

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Secrets from the Data Cave: April 2014

by Ashley FahertyWelcome to CRC’s monthly series of articles on all things techie: Secrets from the Data Cave! (For those who don’t know, the title references our room — fondly referred to as “the bat cave”— where data staff can geek out in an isolated setting.) Here we’ll be offering you a fascinating sneak peek into the cave, with the latest updates & tips on what we’re implementing here at CRC!April 2014:  Building Online Brochures for DummiesLet’s be frank: print advertising is going the way of the Dodo bird (RIP Mr. Dodo). Pamphlets, flyers, and brochures received in the mail(or in-person from a persistent kiosk salesperson while you’re walking through the mall, just trying to get your coffee fix) typically end up in the recycling bin or in a giant stack on your...

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The Cryptic Problem of Encryption

by Sarah McCrudenSo you’ve compiled some raw data for your next big report, or, you’ve come across a few clients’ records that have errors that need to be addressed. If you need to share these tasks with a coworker, email is often the most convenient method for sharing: just attach and send! Sounds simple. But, have you ever wondered just how the email makes its way to the recipient—and whether it’s really safe on its journey there?According to Leo Notenboom, a personal computer and software industry expert, concerns about email interception may be exaggerated: “It is possible to sniff and eavesdrop on email conversations. It's also not particularly easy, unless you're on an open WiFi connection.” Yet, he goes on to say that, “by default, the contents of email is...

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Social Media and Evaluation

I must admit I’m excited about today’s post. Not because it gives us an excuse to indulge ourselves in a lot of unfocused social media (e.g. facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter) fun, but because of the opportunities and uses these tools can provide program evaluators. Not only have these platforms have provided us, as evaluators, with greater ease in gleaning resources (such as through the American Evaluation Association’s facebook page) and communicating with clients and colleagues (via Twitter and our local evaluators’ LinkedIn group), but we’ve begun to see programs’ use of these platforms as an important piece of their evaluation “stories”.Social media allows for connections that are rapid and have the potential for wide dissemination. It isn’t easy to envision programs advertising their services through social media, but it is...

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