Why the focus on under-represented communities?
We believe a paradigm shift is required to transform the lives of the many peoples of the world who have suffered the negative effects of oppression, injustice, and colonization. Doing more of the same isn’t working. We live in a world faced with unprecedented rising levels of inequality and injustice, and therefore there is unprecedented need to focus our evaluation capacity building efforts on those communities who need it most.
Support is needed for these underserved communities to determine their own futures, to be given a chance to undertake the kind of evaluation that affirms and celebrates their norms, values and ways of knowing. They also need to be able to manage, mitigate and critically respond to evaluation being done to them. The most effective way to increase the chances of this happening is to offer the kind of evaluation training needed for people from these communities to become a culturally embedded evaluation resource – evaluation done, not to them, not for them, not even with them – but by these communities, as them.
The field of evaluation can either perpetuate the inequities that abound by reinforcing the cultural hegemony of elites, OR it can tangibly and openly support the aspirations of communities of color, indigenous communities, and others who have been subjected to oppression in our cultures. In the current day, professionally trained evaluators are largely white. At the most basic level, we hope to cultivate evaluators of color who can facilitate large-scale change for increased social justice and equity.
Additionally, we hope to develop white, anti-racist community members and leaders who recognize their privilege and power, and know how to truly inhabit a culturally competent practice in authentic and respectful ways, that do not reinforce the legacies and inequities of injustice and colonization.