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This section features an annotated list of papers, organizations, initiatives, and other resources related to the issue’s theme.

Resources on Scaling Impact

Borman, G. D. (2009). National efforts to bring reform to scale in America’s high-poverty elementary and secondary schools. Washington, DC: Center on Education Policy. This paper examines the history of reform in high-poverty elementary and secondary schools with a focus on the challenges involved in scaling such reform. Additionally, it explores the political climate surrounding school reform and notes that growing interest among policymakers could lead to investments in scaling quality programs to more of America’s high-poverty schools. Online live/NationalEffortsBringReformScaleAmericasHighPovertySchools.pdf

Grossman, A., & Curran, D. F. (2003). Harlem Children’s Zone: Driving performance with measurement and evaluation. Boston: Harvard Business School. In this case study, the authors examine the methods used to evaluate the Harlem Children’s Zone as it went to scale. The Harlem Children’s Zone offers educational, medical, and social services to children from birth through college in a New York City neighborhood. It provides an important example of successful scaling and the role of evaluation in the process. Online at:

Online Conversations about Scaling Impact

Because the idea of scaling impact is a hot topic in the nonprofit world, a number of informal conversations are occurring online about this topic (including the implications for evaluation), especially on blogs.

Links to some of these recent conversations, which represent a wide range of views and opinions, can be accessed here.

McDonald, J., Klein, E., & Riordan, M. (2009). Going to scale with new school designs: Reinventing high school. New York: Teachers College Press. In this book, the authors analyze a scaling approach to redesigning American high schools (i.e., identifying successful local solutions that can be scaled and brought into new areas). The text includes commentaries on the approach and practical advice on confronting the challenges of introducing new programs into communities. In particular, it addresses such challenges as adaptation, teaching, ownership, communication, feedback, resources, and politics.

Ottoson, J. M., & Hawe, P. (Eds.). (2009). Knowledge utilization, diffusion, implementation, transfer, and translation: Implications for evaluation. New Directions for Evaluation, 124. This special issue of the journal offers a series of comprehensive theory and literature reviews on topics that are relevant to any evaluator examining the scale-up process. A chapter is devoted to each of the following subjects: knowledge utilization, innovation diffusion, policy implementation, the transfer process, and knowledge translation. Each chapter describes disciplinary roots, assumptions about change, key variables in the process, and contextual influences.

Roob, N., & Bradach, J. (2009). Scaling what works: Implications for philanthropists, policymakers, and nonprofit leaders. New York: Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and The Bridgespan Group. This paper offers recommendations for turning small, flourishing programs into large-scale successes. Examining examples of successful scaling in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, the authors determine that increasing the scope of a program requires significant resources. They argue that the tendency of nonprofits to cut corners when they receive inadequate funding does not allow for successful scaling. Instead, they suggest a strategy that involves larger amounts of funding going to fewer sources, extensive evaluation and reporting to determine which programs to fund, and stronger partnerships between funders and the nonprofit sector. Online at:

The Social Impact Exchange is a forum for people with diverse careers and interests to share knowledge and learn about scaling effective social programs and solutions. It provides a gathering place for those looking to fund large-scale expansions of nonprofit initiatives. Online at:

Other New Resources, Ideas, and Efforts

Cause Communications’ Online Outreach Tools Guide is a quick-reference guide for groups considering how to most effectively use the Internet and interactive technologies to further their policy change agenda. Demystifying “high-tech” terms, the guide looks at Web 2.0 tools such as wikis, blogs, social networking sites, and Twitter, and assesses their relative strengths and weaknesses for achieving communications and policy objectives. The guide also suggests quantitative and qualitative metrics to use with each tool. Online at:

The Center for Evaluation Innovation, a new nonprofit effort based in Washington DC, is building the field of evaluation in areas that are challenging to measure and where traditional approaches are not always a good fit. The center specializes in advocacy evaluation and other emerging areas (e.g., systems change and communications evaluation) where fresh thinking and new approaches are needed. Online at:

iScale is a social enterprise group that seeks to promote positive change by spreading innovative ideas so they have large-scale impact. iScale’s activities include action learning projects, community building, and networking to share innovations. iScale addresses problems in areas ranging from finance to the environment to corruption; most projects have an international or worldwide focus. Online at:

Platinum standard is a term used by Deborah Lowe Vandell, chair of the Department of Education at University of California at Irvine, to describe an evaluation design that uses a range of measures (e.g., observations, interviews, surveys, etc.) to collect qualitative and quantitative data on program implementation and outcomes. This concept is a response to the gold standard, an evaluation approach that uses randomized clinical trials to collect outcome data. Vandell argues that the platinum standard can provide a fuller picture of a given program than the gold standard, because it incorporates both implementation and outcome data to show how program elements relate to outcomes rather than focusing on outcomes alone. This approach is particularly useful for programs that are going to scale; it can help them determine whether they are successful, and thus worthy of going to scale, and what elements have led to that success, thus enabling them to choose which program components to scale.

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