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Root Cause Research and Assessments

The Peer Performance Exchange


Root Cause Research and Assessments


The Peer Performance Exchange


How can we design the Peer Performance Exchange to enable nonprofits to strengthen their performance measurement practices and improve program quality?


The Peer Performance Exchange (PPE) was created in order to increase the impact of nonprofit programs focusing on youth career development and college access and success. The nonprofit organizations sought a structured way to evaluate their programs and connect with a network of other changemakers in the field, share best practices, and continue to improve program quality.  

Root Cause developed the Peer Performance Exchange in 2013 after completing a pilot version with the Longfield Family Foundation.  This pilot project represented an opportunity for Root Cause to test a systematic and standardized approach for identifying common performance measures, and then comparing programs based based on those common measures.

The PPE began with a focus on supporting programs for youth career development and college access and success.  Each cohort of programs was assessed in two categories:

1) Organizational health, which focused on financial sustainability, strong management and governance, and effective performance measurement practices.

2) Program quality, which focused on the strength of the program model, effective implementation, and outcomes achieved by participants.

Goals & Results

Root Cause team members conducted individual assessments on organizational health and program quality for each nonprofit participating in the cohorts. We produced Independent Program Analysis Reports that summarized the research and analysis and benchmarked their program performance against 150 indicators.  Our team facilitated discussions with the leadership of each nonprofit to thoroughly discuss the findings of each assessment, provide materials to support each nonprofit with presentations and raising funds, and deepen their understanding of recommendations for improvement.

The Peer Performance Exchange aimed to help its members achieve their goals through an “assess, analyze, support, and improve” model. Nonprofits gained an in-depth analysis report of their organizational health and program quality, recommendations for action, presentations and reports to share with funders and key stakeholders, and access to a growing network of organizations with resources. Nonprofit partners benefitted from the codification and sharing of best practices, expediting knowledge dissemination, and networking.  They learned from the reports and from one another in a community of practice as they charted strategies for continuous quality improvement.

The Peer Performance Exchange also helped donors make informed grantmaking decisions based on organizations’ capacity needs and performance.

Youth Career Development Cohort (MA)

ABCD – SummerWorks Program
Boys and Girls Club of Boston – Life After the Club
Future Chefs
Germantown Neighborhood Center – Teens Building Solid Futures
Hull Lifesaving Museum – Maritime Apprentice Program
MissionSAFE – Youth Leadership Service Corps
UTEC Lowell – Workforce Development and Social Enterprise
Year Up

College Access and Success Cohort

Athletic Scholars Advancement Program (ASAP), CA
Bayview Association for Youth, CA
College Bound Dorchester, MA
East Bay College Fund, CA
East Harlem Tutorial Program, NY
East Oakland Youth Development Center, CA
Freedom House, MA
Massachusetts General Hospital: Center for Community Health Improvement, MA
Student Program for Academic and Athletic Transitioning (SPAAT), CA
Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, NY
StreetSquash, NY
The First Tee of Metropolitan New York, NY
The Opportunity Network, NY
The Steppingstone Foundation, MA
Young Scholars Program, CA


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Emerging Leader - Colette Stanzler of Root Cause

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About the Partner

Root Cause Research and Assessments

Root Cause launched its Research and Assessments work in 2006 through the leadership of Colette Stanzler. Colette leveraged her experience from the business sector on how data is used to inform investor expectations of performance. The Research and Assessments team created social issue reports on best practices across a range of focus areas for nonprofits.

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