The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Evaluation Fellowship Program

Increasing diversity in the evaluation field through training, mentoring, and professional development

The RWJF Evaluation Fellowship Program aimed to increase the presence of underrepresented groups in evaluation through fellowships for recent master’s/doctoral graduates and mid-career professionals.

Dates of Project: March 2008 through February 2013

Description: High-quality evaluations depend on having diverse perspectives, which allow authentic and effective interpretation of social patterns in public health, social services, communities, and organizations. There is a need to build professional and advanced training for people of color and other underrepresented groups, particularly at the postgraduate degree level and among those professionals already practicing in a variety of settings.

Open to people from historically disadvantaged and underrepresented communities, the Evaluation Fellowship Program offered one-year, full-time fellowships on two tracks:

  • The Emerging Professionals track was designed for recent graduates of master’s or doctoral programs who had limited professional experience and training in evaluation. Fellows were placed in organizations with expertise and capacity in research and evaluation to work with projects underway, receiving a competitive salary and benefits. The program included four training workshops during the year.
  • The Retooling Professionals track offered an opportunity for midcareer, nonprofit professionals to obtain evaluation skills and training primarily to increase their organization’s ability to use evidenced-based data for culturally responsive programmatic decision-making. Fellows participated in three workshops and received technical assistance as they undertook an internal evaluation program at their organization.

Key Results:

  • Over four years the Evaluation Fellowship Program selected and trained 32 fellows: 16 Emerging Professionals and 16 Retooling Professionals.
  • Emerging Fellows advanced their key evaluation skills from a "novice" skill level at the beginning of the fellowship to a slightly above “proficient” level at fellowship completion.
  • Retooling Fellows showed greatest growth in areas related to the oversight and application of culturally responsive evaluation.

“Whether they work as evaluators or in another capacity such as a program manager, they will know what to expect from evaluation,” said placement supervisor Edith Gozali-Lee, PhD, research scientist at Wilder Research.

  • Most alumni (28 of 32) have remained engaged in the evaluation field.
  • As a result of their participation in the Evaluation Fellowship Program several placement sites have implemented initiatives to improve organizational climate and policies regarding underrepresented staff and increase organizational learning about culturally responsive evaluation.

“The fellowship has supported my career interests in program evaluation. I expect to stay in the evaluation field as long as I can.” (Former Emerging Fellow Jill Jim)

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