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My GEDI journey continues, Marques Hogans Sr., IMPACT Planning Council’s American Evaluation Association Graduate Education Diversity Internship recipient.

I am excited to share my thoughts from my second professional development excursion as a GEDI Intern.  First off, getting a break from the single degree winter weather in Wisconsin is always a plus; enjoying the sunny skies of “winter” in California was something closer to heaven.  Myself, along with seven other distinguished colleagues who received designations as GEDI scholars made our way to Los Angeles to embark on another group gathering.  Without the scheduled workshops, meet and greet receptions, this trip was a little different from those in my previous blogs.

It began with the norm, checking in to our hotel and waiting for whoever shows up next.  This reminded me of being the first to arrive at a family outing and awaiting the arrival of a family member you had not seen in ages or months.  Then quickly understanding that – as much as you just wanted to sit by the pool, sightsee, and spend unnecessary money – this trip was about business, evaluation business.  I had a half a day to wind down and get mentally prepared forMarques at the bear what was to come.  Walking boot and all, the next couple of days were pertinent to my experience as a GEDI.

First up was learning from the former President of AEA, Stewart Donaldson and Dr. Marv Alkins of UCLA, and a tour of its storied campus that 30,000 students apply to every year.  The time with Dr. Donaldson, as a well-respected colleague in evaluation, added to the skill set of the Culturally Responsive Evaluators he has taken under his wings.  Dr. Alkins’ on the other hand area of expertise is evaluation theory.  Being less versed in theory than my GEDI colleagues, his level of knowledge was astonishing, guiding me in the direction of evaluation theory.  If you read my previous blog, you know that I’ve been using a knee scooter to get around- I was smart not to bring it on the tour.  While going up and down stairs, weaving through landmarks on a mending Achilles tendon, I was taken away by the beauty of the UCLA campus.  From historic buildings that separate the colleges, to the bruin bear statue in the epicenter of campus, it gave me a chance to step out of the now and back to memories of my undergrad time at Kentucky State University.  Undergrad is where it all began; daydreaming.

Part of the experience on this GEDI trip that I found really useful was visiting agencies where different people had made careers in evaluation.  Each site introduced us to evaluation in real-world settings, including:

Harder and Company : very similar in scope to IMPACT Planning Council as its evaluation projects spanned a broad range of areas, many of which focused on improving the community from agencies within the community.

First 5 LA : a government entity focused on early childhood advocacy and working under the policies and regulations implemented by the state.

Cobblestone Applied Research and Evaluation: a stand-alone agency with an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) evaluation

Each site possessed its own unique identity under one common concept, evaluation.  Personally it was also great to hear that work did not carry over to life.  Most employees had families, children, or pets.  I have two children (Marques Jr. and Makenzie) who require more of me than any career. Marques Hogans Sr.

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IMPACT Planning Council’s first ever Data Day, held October 29th 2015, brought together community activists, organizational partners, and data experts to explore Milwaukee’s neighborhood data needs. The day began with Mayor Barrett proclaiming the day “Milwaukee’s first ever Data Day,” and was followed by group discussion, brainstorming problems, and outlining projects. Part of the event was dedicated to celebrating IMPACT Planning Council’s designation as Milwaukee’s National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership site (NNIP), and included comments from representatives from the Urban Institute, Data Driven Detroit and the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago.

The diversity of those in attendance –from government workers to community organizers to academics—allowed a wide section of the community to agree that data matters.  The follow up from this event will be two neighborhood based projects.

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AEA: Evaluation 2015

Marques Hogans Sr. is working with IMPACT Planning Council through a partnership with the American Evaluation Association (AEA) called “GEDI”.  As part of his internship, he not only works on a variety of evaluation projects with IMPACT staff, he also attends national conventions and AEA trainings with a cohort of interns placed at agencies across the US.

Another destination in the books and the experience of being a GEDI is beginning to sink in.  The week of November 9th thru 14th, Evaluation 2015 took place in the Windy City, Chicago, IL.   Once again I was surrounded by professionals who value the work of evaluation and its importance as it applies to everyday life.  As I was hours removed from surgery for a torn right Achilles the day I arrived, I was more focused on who, what, when, and where, why, and how.  Who would I meet that would have an impact on my career, what would I learn that I could apply now or later, when does the rest of my cohort arrive, where did I need to check in for the conference, why was the hotel, Hyatt Regency Chicago, so BIG, and how was I going to get around on my knee scooter (laughing literally).

Most of those questions andMarques AEA many more were answered.  After a day of pre-conference workshops my GEDI cohort was introduced to an assembly of evaluation leaders, professionals, and students; at this it sunk in: I was part of something big.  As a member of a program centered on Culturally Responsive Evaluation (CRE) and diversifying the evaluation workforce, this opportunity was one to be cherished and not taken for granted.  The American Evaluation Association deemed 2015 the “International Year or Evaluation” and the conference portrayed just that.  Attendees traveled from across the globe, including Asia, Europe, and the West Indies.  At Evaluation 2015 some workshops confirmed information I had learned from my public health background while others confirmed and answered thoughts, opinions, and questions surrounding evaluation.  I was eager to take as much in as possible.

While my time at Evaluation 15 was short lived due to other obligations, its impact remains.  One of my interests in evaluation is its impact on policy change.  Not too long ago I came across an article which led me to think deeply about how policy affects behavior.  At Evaluation 2015 I was able to attend a workshop on that topic and honestly it was one of my most memorable experiences.  This workshop in particular focused on studies completed in 4 countries outside of the US; Switzerland, Taiwan, Sweden, and Trinidad and Tobago of the West Indies.   The gentleman from Sweden stated, “Evaluations are interventions with unintended outcomes” while explaining the content of his study.  Although their initial hypothesis went unanswered, due to the unintended outcomes represented, policy change occurred five years later.  So while impact may not happen that instant, who is to say when your efforts will become invaluable.

Finally, as a student the one thing I feared most was my ability to transition from writing academically to writing in a professional capacity.  I ran into Professor Tok, an instructor at John Hopkins who serves as mentor to a colleague of mine.  I expressed to her my concern with my writing skill.  She then went on to state, “You have made it this far, so it is not as bad as you may think, just continue to write”.  Simple words with big meaning.

I cannot wait until the next opportunity to learn more from the “Who’s who?” in evaluation in the near future. We will be visiting the UCLA Graduate School in Education and Information Science and Harder, a frontrunner in evaluation, in early February.

Once again the American Evaluation Association (AEA) Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) has placed yet another face to learn, grow, and teach at IMPACT Planning Council.  The GEDI program exposes graduate level students to the field of evaluation through real time work experience and professional development.

Marques Hogans Sr.My name is Marques Hogans, a native Milwaukeean, a Milwaukee Public Schools product, and a Historically Black Colleges and Universities graduate.  I was introduced to evaluation after meeting Kathleen Pritchard, Vice President of Planning and Evaluation for IMPACT, Inc. during my pursuit of a Master’s in Public Health at the Medical College of Wisconsin.  After a brief sit down during which I expressed my interest in determining impact of programs, she explained GEDI and from that day it was set in my phone calendar to apply.  My initial purpose for applying was to continue building a foundation as a member of the public health workforce and increase marketability for future career opportunities.  My purpose has changed!  During the application process, Lisa Larson, Director of Research and Evaluation at IMPACT, became a defining factor and her stick-to-it-ness was encouraging.

Upon acceptance, I felt part of something bigger. My GEDI cohort, District – 13 (our self-imposed name), attended a week long introduction to evaluation experience consisting of workshops held at Claremont Graduate University in California.  I was sold.  My imagination began to soar and the doors of possibilities swung open.  First, it was the introduction to myself through the concept of Interpersonal Validity by Dr. Hazel Symonette of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, our cohort’s mentor.  Then it was the introduction to evaluation by this year’s AEA President, Stewart Donaldson, in which he recognized my cohort, as the next wave of leaders in evaluation, an honor I have yet to forget.  We then learned about topics such as qualitative data, community-based evaluation and culturally- responsive evaluation.  Each topic was delivered by experts in the field of evaluation and some were even past GEDI Interns; it was like looking at myself 5 – 10 years in the future.

Excitement looms as this journey begins and the finish line has no visible end.  Being a GEDI intern at IMPACT Planning Council will be an invaluable experience that will increase growth personally and professionally.  After two days, yes two days, the staff has welcomed me into their spaces, drawn me into their experiences and increased my desire to participate.   These next 10 months will only be the beginning to a road few will travel.

Marques Hogans Sr.

American Evaluation Association GEDI Intern, District – 13

I study Exercise Physiology at MarquetteLiza Banford University and working with web tools with research data has been a new experience. I’ve had the opportunity to work with several projects focusing on mental health, summer reading, and homelessness in the greater Milwaukee community. The theme of my internship at IMPACT Planning Council has been versatility. I have been exposed to a multitude of web and data tools, including Tableau, Hootsuite and Excel and have seen their use and benefit for the greater Milwaukee community.

The exposure to new tools, research models, and data sets fire to my enthusiasm. I have developed a broader understanding of components of the Milwaukee community that relate to wellness, as far as what is offered and what can be further developed. Working with the 2-1-1 hotline, Milwaukee Enrollment Directory, and the Safety Net Survey exposed me to the extent of healthcare services offered.  I have also become familiarized with the work of Milwaukee-area organizations such as Hunger Task Force, United Way of Greater Milwaukee, and the Faye McBeath Foundation in promoting health and wellness in the community.

Being involved in the analysis side of research has been eye-opening. Research isn’t only about the data that is collected, it is about how the data is presented. Only so much can be communicated, so data must be strategically presented so as to be utilized effectively by the community it pertains to. Accuracy is a necessary component in communicating data. I’ve gotten to assist with checking numbers with various sets of data. Presenting data and research using tools like Tableau, Twitter, and Excel has made it apparent that data is crucial to better understanding a community’s strengths and needs and has allowed me to better understand the greater Milwaukee community. It has become clear just how important accuracy and articulation of data is in promoting effective change for the community.

Interning in an area where I hadn’t had experience was guided by a warm welcome from my IMPACT peers. Their willingness to explain their work and their openness to my assisting them in various tasks has empowered my learning from the first day. Their passion and dedication for effective change has been immensely inspiring. I have developed a more structured and systematic way of considering research and statistics. This has helped me to be a more creative and analytical thinker. This will be of use to me in my future as having the ability to summarize and concisely articulate evidence is necessary in impacting beneficial change.

I expect to use the skills I have developed in my time at IMPACT in my future, especially utilizing creatively articulated data in the promotion of health and wellness to diverse populations. I have also seen the importance of building community partnerships in order to monitor and maintain a community’s health resources, which I hope to contribute to in my future. In the past few months my work with new topics and tools has given me the opportunity to see how far open-minded learning really goes. I have an increased curiosity about the Milwaukee community and broader world I am a part of, thanks to my internship at IMPACT Planning Council.

Milwaukee County Poverty in 2012 by Census tract

My name is Jeff Zongolowicz and I am currently a senior at Marquette University and will be graduating in May with degrees in Social Welfare and Justice and Economics.  Over the past few months I have had the great experience of interning for the IMPACT Planning Council.  I decided to intern at IMPACT Planning Council after a professor of mine told me about the opportunity; I realized that it would be a great opportunity to be able to apply both my economics and social welfare and justice backgrounds to real world issues.

During my internship, I have gained valuable experience in data collection and analysis, mapping, focus groups, and some technical writing.  I worked extensively with Census data for the Milwaukee area and compiled data sets that will be useful for a wide variety of projects in the future. The data has been especially useful in creating maps (such as the one displayed here) of Milwaukee that provide valuable insight into the areas of the city where resources should be invested.   The census data I analyzed is being used for several projects already:

  • Evaluation of the Summer Reading project
  • Analysis of demand surrounding several commercial corridors
  • Sharing data with a funder who is looking to see geographically whether their grants are effecting the lower income areas in the city of Milwaukee

One project I have worked extensively on is with LISC, and preparing demographic data surrounding several commercial corridors in Milwaukee. The goal of the LISC Corridor project is to support economic growth in several corridors around Milwaukee.  The project has been interesting because the corridors have a wide variety of economic characteristics. Some are located in high income areas and others in low income areas. They vary greatly in their size and number of businesses.  The differences create a range of unique challenges that each corridor must overcome to achieve economic growth and sustainability.

My main contribution to the Corridor project has been a market analysis for several Business Improvement Districts (BIDS)  and business corridors around Milwaukee.  We combined data from the American Community Survey and Census to calculate the demand for goods and services in each neighborhood surrounding the commercial corridors, as well as the supply of those goods and services in each BID and corridor. After that data was calculated a supply-demand gap analysis was done to determine which types of new businesses each BID has the capacity to support.

In addition to working with large pools of data, I also had the opportunity to collect information directly from people by being able attend a focus group as a note taker. This allowed me to add variety to the role I have had as an intern and also gave me the opportunity to work with some qualitative data in addition quantitative data that has been my focus.  The focus group was conducted for Children’s Hospital which focuses on health in Milwaukee Public schools.  The experience allowed me to better understand the value of qualitative data.  Without the qualitative data gained from these focus groups it becomes easy to misinterpret the quantitative data.  Often times outliers in quantitative data can be easily attributed to something found in the qualitative data, however, if the qualitative data isn’t available the outliers can be wrongly attributed to incorrect causes.

As a whole my internship experience at IMPACT has been valuable in developing my skills and giving me insight into the type of work I would like to do following graduation.  Through my internship here I have become interested in the field of evaluation and come to appreciate its value in promoting efficient and valuable outcomes in communities. I have especially enjoyed the variety of work I have been able to do which has allowed me to gain a feel for the unique range of challenges in the evaluation field.

As my time at IMPACT comes to an end I am excited to continue pursuing a future in the evaluation industry and I expect my experiences here at IMPACT will prove valuable going forward.  I hope to be able to continue to work with communities in the future to be able to promote outcomes that are beneficial to the long-term future of everyone involved.

logo-parents-who-host-large

Have you seen signs like this around your community? Many efforts to reduce youth substance use, like the ‘Parents who Host Lose the Most‘ campaign, have been supported by the Drug-Free Communities Support Program.


What is the Drug-Free Community Support Program?

The Drug-Free Communities Support Program (DFC) was passed in 1997 on the principle that local substance use problems require local solutions. To date, the federal program has funded over 2,000 community coalitions working to reduce youth substance use across the country.

There are two overarching goals of the program:

  1. Strengthen multi-sector collaborations to support community coalitions, and
  2. Reduce substance use among youth.

Overall, DFC grantees have seen significant decreases in substance use for alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana among high school and middle school youth. In addition, DFC grantees have seen significantly lower prevalence’s of 30 day use of alcohol and marijuana (excluding 2011) than schools that are not part of the program.


IMPACT Planning Council’s Role in Supporting Drug Free Communities:

The staff of IMPACT Planning Council (IMPACT) is proud to be engaged in work that supports DFC’s in Southeast Wisconsin. Over the past several years, IMPACT has assisted different grantees with data collection and analysis to provide a snapshot of substance use among youth in their target communities. Additionally, IMPACT has provided assessment and guidance to strengthen the work of coalitions.


Get Involved!

If you are interested in getting involved in local DFC activities, check out the following coalitions in Southeast Wisconsin.


Don’t see your community on the list?  There are more in Wisconsin- click here for a complete list of grantees!

Want to learn more about Drug-Free Communities? Click here.