Exploring the Effectiveness of Place-Based Program Evaluations

This report explores the evaluation of nine place-based programs that have involved the federal government as a key funder or partner. It is based on a series of interviews with evaluators, federal program officers, and community representatives. The report provides insights into the evaluation frameworks, approaches, and methods that have been adopted, as well as the conditions and circumstances that influence the choices made and the overall effectiveness of place-based program evaluations. Although the report finds a number of promising practices, it suggests that the impact of place-based interventions is not best captured by traditional assessment tools. Rather, these new approaches to policy-making and partnership demand new evaluation instruments, methods, and data that are calibrated to capture so-called “soft” outputs and longer-term outcomes. Finally, place-based initiatives are complex and multi-faceted. As such, this review suggests that evaluation be taken into account early on and be integrated into the program throughout its lifespan.