Efforts by the Andrew Goodman Foundation's Vote Everywhere program for youth voter turnout include everything from leadership development to voter education and advocacy. Between this varied activity and working with over 60 diverse higher ed institutions, it is no easy task to monitor ongoing work.
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 groups program activities into four major categories:
As with 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. Pictured to the right are some of the ways the new Program Tracker captures that crucial work.