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Research and Evaluation

The WeCAN collaboration aims at understanding, evaluating, and improving how Community Reviews work and help participating communities see greater success in achieving their goals. Learn more about some of the research and evaluation tools we are using here.


Community Satisfaction Survey

The Community Satisfaction Survey is designed to provide information to community residents and leaders about how most people feel about the different services, physical features and leadership systems in their community.  By compiling survey data across communities and states, we can observe patterns in the ways that residents see their strengths and challenges, information that is helpful to community review delivery organizations and policy makers across the region.

Being able to make reliable claims based on compiled survey data relies on use of a standardized instrument.  A major activity in the first six months of the project has been to create that standardized survey.  We recognize that each community is unique and may have issues they want to hear about from residents that would not be captured by our survey, so each community can choose up to four questions from an optional questions bank in order to tailor the survey to their particular needs.

Ripple Effects Mapping (REM) is a versatile participatory evaluation tool. The intent of REM is to identify the intended and unintended activities that ripple out from the community review process.  REM:

  • Is designed to gather evaluation data from community review participants in a focus group setting

  • Identifies unanticipated positive benefits from the community review by mapping causal chains of results

  • Provides an opportunity for residents to visualize their own and others’ roles in creating community change

  • Patterns emerge from mind maps, providing insights leaders need to design future activities strategically

Download a free copy of the book, Field Guide to Ripple Effects Mapping.
Tri-State project PI, Lorie Higgins is a co-editor of the book

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Other Products of This Project

  • A resource database and this website:  A request from the delivery organizations was for tools that would streamline the process of building community review reports and allow them to more quickly get them back to the community. Compiling hundreds of resources in the form of national and regional websites, grant programs, action guides, reports and the like into one searchable database will save time and add to the range of resources that can be added to community review reports. The database, as are all the resources available through this website, is free and available to everyone. 

  • Coming Soon!  DIY community and economic development resources:  In addition to free use of the database, community leaders and practitioners can benefit from the free and open source tools we will be compiling, such as a DIY community profile template with instructions for easily populating it with data about population, the local economy and other important trends like educational attainment and home ownership. Creation of a “Community Readiness Self-Assessment” (CRSA) is underway as well.  This will allow communities to assess where they are in terms of the capacity to effectively implement change in their communities. Along with the CRSA will be resources for addressing areas of observable weaknesses in leadership systems, civic engagement and other factors that contribute to successful, thriving communities.  See for related information.

  • Mini-grants:  Participating communities in this project, those completing the entire community review process or alumni communities who do ripple effects mapping, are eligible to apply for and receive a small grant for a community project. The range of grant amounts is $500 - $1500, with highest amounts allotted to projects that engage the local population (e.g., little free libraries, community clean-up, a festival, etc.), and/or are projects identified through the community review process.

  • Best Practices Guide for Community Assessments: As the three-year project concludes, we will have produced a guide based on what we have learned.  This will be a step-by-step guide, including templates, facilitator guides, other tools, and guidance for adapting procedures to fit the unique circumstances of communities.

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