The Andrew Goodman Foundation's Vote Everywhere program pursues its goal of increased youth voter turnout through a broad range tactics including leadership development, voting accessibility, advocacy, and—when necessary—litigation. Between this variety of activities and working with over 60 diverse higher education institutions, Vote Everywhere faces a formidable task to monitor and evaluate all the work being done on the campuses. Looking toward the 2019-2020 academic year, AGF wanted to revamp its internal system of monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL).
After interviewing students, faculty and staff from 13 Vote Everywhere campuses, I worked with AGF staff to craft a reporting tool for student leaders to capture and track their efforts. The Vote Everywhere Program Tracker, which can be found on AGF's website, groups program activities into four major categories:
Like many MEL projects, the client and I faced the issue of quantitative versus qualitative metrics. Most information in the categories of activities listed above is quantifiable. While it isn't always simple or easy, the student leaders can keep count of the voters they've registered or the attendees in a lecture hall where they've spoken.
But in the fourth category of Youth Voting Advocacy, qualitative information is important to track the process of prodding decision makers to clear the path for easier voting, voter registration, or on-campus civic education. When students meet with university or government officials, for instance, it's crucial to precisely note the officials' receptivity or resistance as well as the arguments or data they view as most persuasive.
And compared with the other categories, advocacy can make a bigger impact because a single policy could open the way for hundreds—or sometimes thousands—of additional votes. Here are some of the ways the new Program Tracker captures that crucial work: