Building an evidence base for an agency’s programs: An interview with Chris Spera, Chief Evaluation Officer, Corporation for National and Community Service – Episode #34

How can a public agency start to build an evidence base about what works for its programs? How can it strengthen an organizational focus on results and evidence — not just for itself, but also among the nonprofits that it funds through grants? And how can agencies use innovative tiered-evidence grant programs to focus grant dollars on approaches backed by strong evidence while still allowing promising new approaches to be tested?

To explore these issues, we’re joined by Chris Spera, the Director of Research and Evaluation (i.e., Chief Evaluation Officer) at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). CNCS is $1 billion federal agency that invests in community programs and interventions and helps more than five million Americans improve the lives of their fellow citizens through service. Its signature programs include AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and the Social Innovation Fund. [Note, since this interview, Chris has taken a new position at Abt Associates.]