The Learning Curve, Issue 1 (October 2014) No Images? Click here

Learning for Action (LFA) is pleased to publish the first issue of its biannual newsletter, The Learning Curve. In each issue of The Learning Curve, we will share with you tools, resources, and insights from our work as consultants in the social sector.

In this issue, we offer a framework and tools for evaluating systems change initiatives. 


A Practical Approach to Systems Change Evaluation

If you are in the social sector – as a public agency, a foundation, a nonprofit, or an evaluator – chances are that you hear or use the term “systems change” an average of three times a day (plus or minus two). Five or ten years ago the term was still exotic, but no longer. It is now a little like the term “culture;” we are all able to use “systems change” correctly in a sentence, but the speaker and the listener are likely to have different interpretations of what it means, and many of us would be hard-pressed to provide a precise definition were someone to ask “just what do you mean by that, exactly?”

As we seek to actively participate in and evaluate systems change initiatives, we need a conceptual framework that supports a clear, shared sense of just what it is we are all talking about when we say “system” or “systems change.” LFA has developed A Practical Guide to Assessing Systems Change to address these issues. It offers a framework and a set of tools to help evaluators operationalize systems change concepts, and set up an approach to evaluate systems change initiatives.

Read more


A Practical Guide to Assessing Systems Change

Add to Your Evaluation Toolbox

The Systems Change Evaluation Guide contains several tools that apply to multiple phases of evaluation. Check out this useful tool for a shortcut to identifying systems change indicators. 

Systems Change Indicator Worksheet

The framework helped us to imagine, in concrete terms, what systems change might look like as our initiative unfolds over time. 

-  The Skillman Foundation


The Framework in Action at The Skillman Foundation

LFA’s systems change framework took the many moving parts of the Skillman Foundation’s youth development system-building work and organized them into neat categories, using accessible concepts. The framework helped us to imagine, in concrete terms, what systems change might look like as our initiative unfolds over time. It also aligned with certain ways we were already thinking about our work – for example, we were already thinking about program quality, and expanding access to programs, and how to integrate youth development programs with schools. The framework helps us see how these are components of systems change: quality and scale are two aspects of what the framework calls “pathway capacity,” and integration touch-points between youth development programs and schools represent an aspect of “pathway connections.”

                                                       - Marie Colombo, The Skillman Foundation