Building Evaluation Capacity in Youth-Serving Organizations Through Evaluation Advisory Boards


  • Barry A. Garst Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management; Clemson University
  • James Pann Nova Southeastern University
  • Tiffany Berry Claremont Graduate University
  • Gretchen Biesecker Bee’s Knees Consulting, LLC
  • Jason Spector Policy Studies Associates
  • Michael Conn Student Research Foundation
  • Curtis Jones University of Wisconsin Milwaukee



capacity-building, evaluation, evaluation advisory boards, program quality


Youth-serving organizations seek effective and cost-efficient solutions to build evidence and advance their impact. Some common challenges include choosing data systems or assessments, budgeting and planning for 3rd-party studies, and refining measurement and outcomes when programs expand or change. Evaluation advisory boards (EABs) are a low-cost solution to add evaluation capacity and can be mutually beneficial to both youth-serving organizations and evaluation experts. Previous research suggests that EABs may encourage meaningful use of data, support internal evaluators, and/or facilitate difficult conversations among stakeholders. However, there are very few examples of successful EABs in practice. This paper shares the perspectives of EAB members and organizational evaluation leaders from a large national after-school program, After-School All-Stars (ASAS), including (a) a description of the benefits of EABs, (b) how EABs may be especially helpful with the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and (c) examples of youth-serving organizations’ EABs. The experiences and lessons learned by ASAS and its EAB are generalizable to other non-profit youth development programs. Recommendations for structuring EABs based on organizational goals are provided.

Author Biography

Barry A. Garst, Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management; Clemson University

Dr. Barry Garst is an Associate Professor of youth development leadership in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management at Clemson University.  His applied research focuses on critical and emerging issues facing the out-of-school time community of youth, staff, parents, and program providers.


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