Unpausing the CRS Blog

Hello and welcome back dear readers! 

After a pause from updating this blog space, CRS is excited to resume sharing tips and insights  into evaluation work, analysis of current research on Culturally-Responsive Equitable Evaluation (CREE), updates about developments at CRS, and more! Much has happened in the past two years, both internally at CRS and of course, externally in the world. This reintroduction blog post will provide a short overview of the progress that CRS has made as a firm, as well as an update about how the evaluation field has progressed. We also give a sneak peek into some of the ideas we have planned for future blog posts. 

We are very pleased to announce that CRS has grown considerably since our last post in 2019. CRS has been successfully awarded an increased number of projects in the past two years and expanded its client base substantially. We have worked with a variety of clients in the philanthropic, education, nonprofit, and public health sectors. 

More projects also meant adding more staff to our deep and skilled bench of researchers and evaluators! Check out our website for more information on our amazing team that brings a wide breadth of knowledge, technical skills, and experience including, but not limited to: diversity, equity, and inclusion; CREE; public health; organization-wide assessments, action planning, and capacity-building. 

With so many new minds and hands available, we have been able to provide our clients with novel, innovative approaches that combine our diverse experiences, catalyze learnings across our team and assure a focus on being community centered and uplifting marginalized voices.   This has also allowed us to further establish our credibility among partners, peers and in the field at large. 

In the context of the pandemic, especially new and insightful work has come our way. Several of CRS’s recent projects have focused on assisting organizations in measuring their response to the pandemic, specifically looking at their emergency grant making practices. We also served as thought partners to Foundations in what to consider while making these emergency response grants. 

An example that we would like to highlight is our project with the Duke Endowment. In June 2021, the Duke Endowment contracted with us to evaluate its efforts to center racial equity in COVID-19 grants. CRS found that the changes the Endowment made to its grantmaking practices did help target resources to populations most affected by the pandemic – Black, Native American/Indigenous and Latinx communities. Please click here for the full findings of our study. 

Another example of recent CRS projects is our work with the Kauffman Foundation. CRS provided evaluation services for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant-Making. We reviewed recent gray literature to understand how foundations are supporting underserved entrepreneurs and small businesses at extreme risk of economic injury or closure during the pandemic. Our team additionally generated rapid response grantmaking learning and evaluation questions and survey and interview tools for grantees to help the Foundation determine the extent to which their portfolio and strategy have provided relief to small businesses and entrepreneurs. We presented key rapid response grantmaking resources and lessons learned from our literature review to Foundation staff during a learning and Q&A session.

In general, clients and partners have been increasingly interested in culturally responsive and equitable evaluation (CREE), especially since the social justice uprisings in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black people by the police. Many organizations have initiated measures to address diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) both within their own internal structures but also within their program and grant-making practices. CRS has been able to utilize its extensive experience within CREE to assist organizations in evaluating these efforts. 

And CRS too, in response to the pressures of the last few years, dove deeper into exploring the importance of examining intersectionalities in evaluation and what that means for us in terms of learning and evaluation activities. We incorporated mindfulness and healing in our practices – both internally within our team, and externally with our clients.

In future blog posts, we hope to share more with you and provide you with useful information on evaluation theory, emerging practices, actionable research, and tools that can assist you in getting started with evaluation. So please check back for posts shortly. 

About Katharina Grimm

Katharina Grimm earned her Master's in International Policy and Development at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, specializing in Human Rights, Gender and Identity Studies. Kat has worked as an evaluator in legal aid with a particular focus on clients who experienced various forms of abuse. She believes in the power of data and is an avid, historical researcher.