We are skilled at using a wide variety of methods to conduct our research and evaluation, policy tracking and analysis, and strategic planning and program development work. We also tailor and present our findings in a wide array of formats for our clients.
Evaluation Technical Assistance
FoodBEAMS Tech Support
|Policy Tracking & Analysis
Surveys – Intercept, Online, Pre-post
We refine instruments and/or materials through the process of cognitive interviewing, in which individuals are invited to verbalize thoughts as they examine information. Our cognitive interviewing process results in clearer, more accurate survey and data collection tools and other materials disseminating health information.
Presenting research findings to key stakeholders has proven to be an invaluable method to not only share important findings, but to engage key players in the interpretation and dissemination of findings. Convenings can be held in person or via virtual meetings utilizing webinars.
Our data analysis strategy typically involves information synthesis from multiple sources to evaluate the numerous factors that can contribute to changing a community. We are particularly interested in the extent to which policies that have been adopted and implemented, community engagement, and efforts for sustaining improvements. Individual level analyses typically focus on physical activity, dietary behavior, height, weight, and BMI. We also perform secondary data analyses of existing -public health datasets and access data such as FitnessGRAM test results.
We provide health organizations and government institutions tools and technical support to evaluate health initiatives. This helps develop a plan for the initiative’s implementation phase.
Evaluation Technical Assistance
Our team of experienced evaluation researchers is available to provide evaluation technical assistance to community coalitions and networks, community based organizations, businesses, foundations, and government. We offer technical assistance and coaching to build evaluation capacity and assist clients to complete action research and evaluation projects. Evaluation technical assistance may be ongoing or time limited and can be offered as a stand-alone service or in combination with training.
We provide evaluation and action research training to youth and adults through in-person trainings or webinars.
We have developed a unique set of tools to conduct observational assessments in schools, after school programs, food retailers, health care institutions, and neighborhoods to document changes in nutrition and physical activity environments and adherence to policies. Our assessments document available foods, beverages, signage and marketing, pricing, and physical activity facilities, equipment, resources and levels. We have extensive food and beverage databases collected from a range of communities and can analyze adherence to a variety of evidence-based nutrition standards.
We conduct focus groups with community residents – both adults and youth – to gather qualitative data on perceptions and experiences, resources needed to develop leadership and advocacy skills, and challenges and barriers faced in accessing healthy food and physical activity opportunities. Focus groups are conducted in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
FoodBEAMS Tech Support
FoodBEAMS is a web-based assessment tool developed to assess foods and beverages adherence to policy. We offer FoodBEAMS trainings and technical assistance to help new users operate the web-based tool. FoodBEAMS can also be used by communities or organizations to monitor school or office food environments and Samuels Center can provide support for communities interested in using FoodBEAMS for this purpose.
We work with clients to support the growth of vibrant, healthy communities and address the root causes of inequities. Much of this work has happened in lower-income and ethnically diverse communities across the country where rates of chronic illness are highest. We conduct formative research and evaluation, measurement and communication of progress, board administration, grantmaking and grants management, as well as convening, reflection and learning for a variety of stakeholders including grantees. The qualitative and quantitative methodologies we have developed capture accomplishments, challenges, lessons learned, best practices and outcomes from initiatives focused on environmental, policy and systems change in a variety of sectors. We have extensive experience tailoring data collection methods to be appropriate for diverse geographies, cultures, languages, and demographics.
We work with grantees to develop and refine logic models that frame an initiative’s implementation strategy, identify outcomes, and guide the evaluation and technical assistance. We generate a complete strategic plan that is tied to concrete outcomes. This planning technique can be used to define goals, objectives and target core program components that need to be implemented in order to achieve goals, objectives as well as intervention partners and define the evidence needed to demonstrate change. As part of this process, we identify evaluation methods that could be employed to measure change.
PhotoVoice is a participatory action research method that combines photography with community organizing and action. We work with youth and adult community members to use PhotoVoice as a component of community assessment to inform and drive change initiatives and/or new programming and services.
Policy Tracking & Analysis
The objective of our policy scans is to monitor progress made towards the development and implementation of public policies that promote healthy eating, physical activity, and good health. To meet these aims, we monitor related local, state, federal, and institutional policies. Where applicable, data from scans are used to assess the feasibility of implementing a particular policy, determine how successful policy strategies have been implemented in the past, and assess whether the adoption of a policy led to the desired outcome. Contextual information is used to explain the differential challenges and successes of policy development and adoption.
We have used both the System for Observing Fitness Instruction in Students (SOFIT) tool and a modified version of the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC) tool in multiple studies and evaluation to document student and community resident physical activity levels. The use of the SOFIT tool allows Samuels Center to measure physical activity levels during multiple physical education classes, physical education class length and content, and documentation of the physical activity facility where the class takes place. Similar to SOFIT, but focused on community settings, the use of SOPARC enables Samuels Center to provide observational information on community physical activity facilities including the characteristics of users. It has allowed Samuels Center to document through observation the number of users and their physical activity levels, gender, activity modes/types, and estimated age and ethnicity groupings.
We conduct in-depth interviews with a variety of stakeholders including community residents and leaders, educators, advocates, grant makers, government officials, communications/ media personnel, scientific experts, policymakers, and private sector representatives to obtain a diverse range of perspectives. We ask respondents to describe existing practices; programs or policies; level of program implementation and reach; desired and actual outcomes; community member engagement; barriers to success; as well as lessons learned for sustaining change and replicating successful models.
We can help you achieve your organization’s missions and goals. We see strategic planning as the process of creating a road map that sets the course for where an organization, governmental institution or coalition would like to be in the future and how it will get there. We conduct a thorough review of existing programs and initiatives, services, mission, vision or goals statements, action plans, reports, and data to inform the strategic plan. We are experienced in facilitating face-to-face meetings with leadership to set the direction for the plan’s development. We pay special attention during the strategic planning process to defining short and long-term outcomes that are meaningful and realistic.
We administer multiple choice and short-answer pre-post surveys to assess health attitudes, behaviors, and outcomes via mail, intercept, or online.
Findings from data analyses are documented, presented to staff, and disseminated. Evaluation products can take the form of policy briefs, case studies, reports, scientific journal articles, and visual presentation slides.