This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.
10 Jun, 2015

Ask Nicole: How Did You Pass the LMSW Exam on the First Try?

By | 2016-10-25T01:48:00+00:00 June 10th, 2015|Categories: Social Work|Tags: , , , , , , , |2 Comments

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Here’s a question I recently got from a Raise Your Voice reader:

Hi Nicole! I am currently studying to take the licensed master of social work [LMSW] exam in my state. I’m a little nervous because I’ve been out of graduate school for a few years now. While I’ve been working as a social worker since then, I feel so far removed from studying that the thought of actually taking this exam brings up a lot of anxiety for me. Can you share what you did to take the LMSW exam and pass it on the first try?

Before I give my advice on preparing for the LMSW exam, I want to share the process I underwent that led me to pass the LMSW exam on my first try. As a disclaimer, this is what *I* did. In no way am I’m advocating for anyone to do the same. 

I graduated from my social work graduate program in May 2010, and I took the LMSW exam on March 31, 2014. I’m mentioning this for one important reason: While I do recommend taking the exam as soon as you’re eligible to take it (which depends on your state. There are some states that will allow you to take the exam during the final month of your graduate program), it is possible to take this exam and pass it years after graduation.

Some things I considered prior to registering for and taking the exam:

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12 Mar, 2015

Ask Nicole: What’s the Difference Between Research and Evaluation?

By | 2016-10-25T01:48:00+00:00 March 12th, 2015|Categories: Program Design & Evaluation|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

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Do you have any questions related to social work, evaluation, reproductive justice? Curious about how I feel about a particular topic? Contact me and I’ll answer it!

This is probably the most common question you’ll hear about evaluation practice. Because I’m asked this question often, I would like to given my take on it.

To start, there are several differences between research and evaluation. Evaluation is a systematic way of figuring out how effective your programs and services are, and if the desired outcomes of the program/service line up with what participants are experiencing. You can do this in a variety of ways, including surveys, focus groups, interviews, and more. Evaluation can inform key stakeholders (which can include legislators, program participants, funders, nonprofit staff, etc.) how sustainable your program or service is.

In comparison, research is designed to seek new knowledge about a behavior or phenomenon and focuses on the methods of getting to that new knowledge (hypothesis, independent/dependent variables, etc.). In other words, research wants to know if a particular variable caused a particular effect (causation). Once testing is done, researchers can make research recommendations and publish their findings. However, one of the key differences between research and evaluation is that conducting an evaluation can lead to insights in what’s going well and what can be improved. In other words, evaluation shows how valuable your program or service is.

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13 Aug, 2014

Ask Nicole: How Can I Build My Evaluation Skills?

By | 2016-10-25T01:48:01+00:00 August 13th, 2014|Categories: Program Design & Evaluation|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

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Do you have a question that other Raise Your Voice community members can benefit from? Contact me and I’ll answer it!

Several weeks ago, I received the following email from a fellow program evaluator:

Hi Nicole,

I read your blog post, “Program Evaluation for Women and Girls of Color: How I Developed My Passion for Evaluation Practice,” and I was immediately drawn to it. I am an up and coming program evaluator who is fairly new to the field and still on a learning curve. I am struggling to figure out my place in the field, whether I belong here, and whether there are growth opportunities for me as an evaluator of color with a social equity, direct service, and light research background. A previous boss once told me that she didn’t believe I loved research, and didn’t see me as being an evaluator. While I agree that research isn’t my forte, there continues to be something that draws me to evaluation. I consider myself to be pragmatic and can get lost in big picture thinking, something researchers are good at. But, I believe in program accountability, neutrality in the presentation of information, and integrity. These are all elements that I believe evaluation brings to the table. I do wish to grow in my career, but at times I feel like giving up because I don’t yet know a lot about many things related to evaluation. Anyway, I’m happy to have come across your blog post because it provided some comfort in knowing that I am not the only one who has questioned her place in program evaluation. Your words are empowering!It would be great to speak with you further about your career trajectory in evaluation.What professional development opportunities would you recommend? How may I build up my evaluation skills? Looking forward to your response.

This was a really thoughtful question, and it’s great to hear from a fellow program evaluator of color!

Program evaluation is a rapidly changing field, and as you see, it’s exciting and daunting at the same time. Like you, I consider myself an up and coming evaluator, and I totally understand the feeling of not know all that one needs to know in order to get ahead in this field. I’ve come to find that, in my experience, you’ll always be on a learning curve because of emerging best practices, the latest research, and current trends. That’s what makes evaluation so exciting.

When I decided to develop a career in program evaluation, I began reading up on anything and everything related to program evaluation. And then I started to get overwhelmed. There’s so much to evaluation that it’s almost impossible to know everything. So, a recommendation I have for is to figure out what you want to develop your niche in, and build your skills in that, if possible. For example, I’m into participatory evaluation, empowerment evaluation, and evaluation theories that can be applied within racial, feminist, gender, and youth lenses. Elements such as logic models, quantitative and qualitative data collection, and the like are the basis for all evaluation theories, and I when I need to figure out how to run an analysis, or if I need additional help in looking for key themes in a qualitative data set, I’ll ask my colleagues. In other words, everything is (in the words of entrepreneur Marie Forleo, “figure-outable”).

While I think developing a niche is ideal, I understand that choosing an area of focus may tricky and dependent on your actual job duties. Are you good at running data sets, spotting the similarities, and comparing different kinds of variables? Do you like to help others run different data software, like SPSS, DataViz, and Excel? Do you like helping others present their data in a way that’s easy to understand and catered to the audience receiving the information? When I need to figure out a better or more interesting way to present my data, I like to turn to Stephanie Evergreen of Evergreen Data. In the blog portion of her website, she gives practice advice for how best to tailor your data presentation to your audience. Stephanie also runs Potent Presentations, which helps evaluators improve their presentation skills. When I need to figure out a better way to show my data in a bar chart or a graph or even participate in a DataViz challenge, I look to Ann Emery of Emery Evaluation. If I want to learn better ways on how to de-clutter my data, I like to read (and be entertained by) Chris Lysy of freshspectrum.  Also, if I want to gain more insights on building an independent evaluation consultant business, I refer to Gail Barrington of Barrington Research Group.

When it comes to professional development and skills building, here are some places to get started:

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10 Apr, 2014

Ask Nicole: “Why Do You Only Care About Women and Girls of Color?”

By | 2016-10-25T01:48:03+00:00 April 10th, 2014|Categories: Ask Nicole|Tags: , , , , , , , |0 Comments

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Do you have a question that other Raise Your Voice community members can benefit from? Contact me and I’ll answer it!

I recently received the following question from a woman who is interested in starting her own nonprofit:

Hello, Nicole.  I am very impressed with your blog and I enjoy reading it for more ways to get inspiration.

I’m interested in creating a nonprofit organization for teen girls, focusing on empowerment, education, and sports. I am Latina, and while I enjoy working with young Latinas, I’m wondering if I should focus my business around working with all teen girls, regardless of race or ethnicity. I see that your business focuses exclusively on women and young women of color. Do you ever get asked, “Why do you only care about women and girls of color?” Do you ever feel that you may be limiting yourself? I feel that if I create a business that focuses on all teen girls I will look more attractive to potential clients and will be able to grow my business more quickly, but if I focus on Latina teens, I would feel that I have more of an investment beyond getting paid for my services. I believe deep down that I know what I should do, but I don’t want to limit myself. And I’m afraid of overextending myself.

Thank you again for your inspiration! I look forward to your reply.

This is a really great question, and I’m happy to answer it!

I’ve been asked “Why do you only care about women and girls of color?” in a variety of ways for a long time. I think the first time I was asked was years ago, long before I could even envision what my business would look like today. But instead of being asked by a woman, I was being asked by men, who wanted to know what makes women and girls of color more important than working with entire communities of color. I was given advice on how I can include more men and young boys of color into what I wanted to do, how young men and boys of color “have it worse” compared to young women and girls of color, and how communities of color needed someone like me to provide inspiration to all young people, not just young girls of color. I’ve also be questioned on why I, as a Black woman, focus on all women and girls of color and not just Black women and girls.

(It’s always interesting how people who have the most ideas on what you need to do, never seem to have the time or interest in making these improvements themselves. But that’s another matter!)

I’ll answer this question in three parts: 1) Why I’m invested in all women and girls of color, 2) the benefits of creating a niche and 3) the fear of limiting yourself:

Like our reader, I’m invested in women and girls of color because I am one. While I don’t doubt that men and boys of color need services that cater to their needs, and while I believe that want I do as a program evaluator and speaker can lent themselves into working with men and boys of color, I tend to point interested people to organizations and people I know who are doing the work of providing services for men and boys of color (and to the organizations that serve them). I don’t believe that women and girls are superior than men and boys. My life experience as a girl of color and now as a woman of color just lends itself more to wanting to devote my time to improving the quality of life for women and girls of color in any way I can. Also, I feel that what I do with program evaluation and speaking works great for all organizations that provide services for women and girls of color. It helps me to be more culturally competent and helps me to recognize the strengths of all women and girls of color, not just Black women and girls. Communities of color are resourceful and there are many people (regardless of gender) who are on the ground offering their perspectives, talents, and insights that we are the better for.  (more…)