Building Evaluative Capacity through a Focus on Key Components of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)/Community Action Agency (CAA) Model, 2016 - 2019

Project Overview

This project is working closely with the Office of Community Services (OCS) to assist in building capacity among the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) network - including state and local agencies - for evaluating the CSBG model and approach. The CSBG’s mission is to provide assistance to states and local communities, working through a network of Community Action Agencies (CAA) and other neighborhood-based organizations, for the reduction of poverty, the revitalization of low-income communities, and the empowerment of low-income families and individuals to become fully self-sufficient.

Through literature reviews, scans of current practices, and consultations with stakeholders and experts, this project is addressing key conceptual issues related to the evaluation of the CSBG model and designing two guides for enhancing the CSBG Network’s ability to understand the causal effects of their work. The project focuses particular attention on:

  • identifying promising approaches to evaluating CAA’s community-change efforts
  • designing community needs assessments to support future evaluation efforts, and
  • understanding the contribution leveraged funding makes to meeting CSBG objectives.

The project builds on previous OCS efforts to increase accountability and promote quality improvement. It will help OCS and the CSBG Network ensure that key components of the CSBG model are implemented as effectively as possible, and support the CSBG Network in more effectively using information they already collect to better answer questions about community-wide impact, examine operational strategies, and inform ongoing quality improvements.

The Urban Institute project team has been consulting with internal and external experts throughout the project to inform all stages of the work. These expert advisors include practitioners, stakeholders, and researchers who are knowledgeable about performance management and measurement, evaluation of large-scale community-change efforts, poverty and self-sufficiency, and the work of CAAs.

The point of contact is Kim Clum, DEI, OPRE.