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Doing Better: Accelerating the Performance and Visibility of College Access and Success Programs

The following is a cross-post by Anne Radday, Senior Manager of Research, Social Impact Research at Root Cause. You can read the original post on the Root Cause blog here.

“What can we do better?” our client Tim, manager of a New York City college access and success program we analyzed, asked me.

Anne Radday Anne Radday

In 2010, Root Cause’s Social Impact Research department analyzed approximately 15 college access and success programs in New York City. We selected an impressive group of seven high-performing organizations from this group.* Tim’s program was not among them.

In a brief conversation, I walked Tim through several areas where his program was strong and other areas where our analysts identified need for improvement because it was not meeting the threshold for effective programming.

“Can you put all of that in an e-mail and send it to me?” he asked. “I want to share it with the director of programs here.” Much of what I told him he needed to improve upon, he agreed with and wanted to change; however, he was having a difficult time getting buy-in from his superiors. He believed that our analysis would strengthen his case.

Now our program analysis has evolved into the Peer Performance Exchange (PPE), a set of services that can help programs like Tim’s progress from good to high-performing—ultimately better serving young people who are trying to be prepared for, get into, and graduate from college. These services also help programs at all performance levels raise their visibility and profiles among funders.

The PPE, the first of its kind and a low-cost alternative to third-party evaluations, offers participating organizations in-depth reports on organizational and program performance that support continuous improvement and the ability to better communicate outcomes to funders.

Members of the Exchange:

  • Learn about their programs’ strengths and opportunities for improvement through a comprehensive and independent analysis performed by Social Impact Research analysts
  • Link with like-minded organizations in an annual members-only symposium focused on peer-to-peer learning, problem solving, and networking
  • Leverage the findings of the analysis to improve their programs’ effectiveness through a hub of web-based resources
  • Elevate visibility and demonstrate commitment to measurement, accountability, and continuous improvement through marketing efforts to funders

We are recruiting members for the college access and success PPE to launch in September 2013. To be guaranteed a space in this group, sign up by June 1. We will begin collecting data from all members in September, and you will receive your report in January 2014. To learn more about PPE and fees, please contact Anne Radday at or 617.649.1536.

*In 2010, we analyzed programs working on college access and success that were using the core approach we identified to be most effective based on our research. Programs that received the high- performer seal were highlighted to funders and received marketing reports for fund-raising. We now analyze all interested programs and everyone who participates with an in-depth report that can be used for internal self-improvement.

Having joined Root Cause in 2008, Anne brings over ten years of experience in government, international development, and the social sector to the team.

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