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Measurement, Learning, & Improvement refers to the process of using of data to understand what works and apply insights and practices that yield meaningful and measurable improvements in people’s lives.

Measurement, Learning, & Improvement

Measurement, Learning, & Improvement (MLI) projects are focused on optimizing the performance of organizations and programs working to improve people’s lives. Root Cause helps partners collect, understand, and use data to deepen and expand their impact on people’s lives.

Our approach is centered on a commitment to continuous quality improvement. Using a variety of tools, we help partners assess and strengthen their capacity to ensure limited resources are being well utilized. Our team works with partners to identify and increase the use of evidence-based practices that increase the likelihood of better outcomes for people.

MLI for Foundations

Root Cause offers extensive expertise in developing performance measurement systems and practices for strategic learning and assessment of social impact. We ground our work around a theory of change with a clear hypothesis, and help partners measure and track key indicators of organizational and programmatic effectiveness. Partners gain capacity to make strategic and programmatic decisions based on data and evidence, not assumption or anecdote, so their impact is felt by more people and families.

MLI for Nonprofit Organizations

Root Cause examines how programs and organizations are currently performing and how they can increase sustainability and impact. Our team explores the dimensions most critical to success, including service quality and measurement capacity. Using assessments, research and other tools, we analyze performance in the context of best practices in the field and help leaders apply strategic learning to program and organization design.

Project Goals

Measurement, learning, & improvement projects help foundations, nonprofit organizations, school districts, and public agencies to:

Focus on meaningful milestones.
Partners focus a theory of change that enables people to achieve key milestones and propels lifelong success.
Strengthen capacity for performance measurement.
Partners build and deploy a performance measurement system to track what matters, uncover actionable insight, and improve organization and/or program performance.
Practice continuous quality improvement.
Partners build practices, gain capacity, and cultivate cultural norms that support a strong commitment to an ongoing cycle of gathering and applying data to strengthen operations and impact.
Learn and share evidence-based practices.
Partners gain insight into what works, and why, in their efforts to improve people’s lives. Projects document existing research evidence, support the building of new evidence, and facilitate sharing of best practices through communities of practice, events, and publications.
Increase effectiveness.
Organizations and programs become more effective by applying evidence-based practices that result in meaningful and measurable improvements in people’s lives. Partners are better able to identify strengths and focus on opportunities to improve.
Reduce disparities in outcomes.
People benefit when organizations working on their behalf understand the barriers to access and participation that people experience based on race, class, gender, geography, or other factors, and shape their practices to reduce those barriers.

helping partners deliver meaningful and measureable impact.

Project Activities

Measurement, learning, & improvement projects are focused on organizational and program activities and outcomes. We help partners:

Focus and test a theory of change.

We work with partners to articulate a rigorous hypothesis for how their work will measurably improve the lives of more people. Our work creates clarity of purpose and alignment of activities that are grounded in evidence and designed to make a difference.

Engage people and families in shaping services to support their success.

Performance measures and measurement tools must reflect what really matters for people to succeed. Our approach grounds the ongoing development of programs and services in the metrics that matter to mothers and fathers, children and families, students and teachers, employees and citizens. We help partners engage people in the community to understand their experiences and ensure programs address their needs.

Assess capacity for performance measurement.

We designed a performance measurement audit and coaching process to assess and strengthen your organizational culture and capacity to identify, collect, track, and analyze data and use it to drive decision-making.

Design and build performance measurement tools and processes.

We help partners design and build the tools and systems they need to measure impact and progress.  We empower leaders to track organizational and program performance, generate key insights, and use knowledge to make strategic and programmatic decisions based on evidence throughout the performance measurement cycle.

Build a culture of and process for continuous quality improvement.

Quality operations deliver quality programs, and quality programs deliver strong outcomes for people and families. We help partners identify key quality indicators, design processes for collecting those data points, and practice the art and science of using information to continuously improve their operations and programs.

Research, assess, and apply evidence-based practices.

We help leaders and program directors understand and apply the best available evidence of effectiveness to inform service delivery. We work with your team and partners to review the existing body of knowledge in your field and share evidence about what works, how it works, why it works, and under what contexts.

Learn how people experience barriers to success based on race, class, gender, and geography and design programs to support success for people.

A growing body of quantitative evidence shows how historical and current systemic barriers negatively affects the ability of individuals, families, and communities to succeed. We help clients understand the challenges and conditions that hinder success and work to reduce or eliminate their negative impact.

Develop performance management skills.

Leadership development is a critical step in cultivating a culture of learning and improvement and creating the norms and systems that support it. Our team delivers coaching to leaders and groups of organizations in order to strengthen their capacity and gain new competencies that result in stronger programs and impact.

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