The Great Cities Institute (GCI) produces engaged research that contributes to equity, justice, and quality of life in cities and metropolitan regions.
GCI researchers have experience developing innovative measures to capture neighborhood-level socio-economic conditions across the Chicago Metropolitan Region as illustrated by GCI’s development of hardship and opportunity indices of Chicago’s neighborhoods. These tools utilize interdisciplinary methods to conceptualize opportunity across several life domains to arrive at composite views of hardship and opportunity.
Project Evaluation Strategy
GCI utilizes community-based evaluation methods for conducting evaluations. The essence of our method is that researchers and stakeholders view the evaluation process as a collaboration and work is conducted primarily in the service of the stakeholder(s). Stakeholder involvement not only ensures the relevancy of the evaluation but also helps stakeholders understand which parts of the outcome evaluation process requires their support and cooperation. Additional key elements of community-based evaluation include collaborating on research questions, involving stakeholders in the work as much as possible, and collaborating on the production of the final report.
GCI engages key stakeholders, which necessarily requires effective collaboration with the network of project partners.
The Great Cities Institute is uniquely qualified with skilled evaluators who embody:
- equity and diversity
- experience with developmental evaluation and work with collaboratives
- knowledge of relevant issues in the Chicago region
GCI’s evaluation framework is informed by a focus on impacts that reach beyond individual projects to the system scale, aimed at changing the structure of opportunity, particularly in disadvantaged communities.
The purpose of a process evaluation is to consider the effectiveness of a program’s design and implementation, including how service delivery programs can optimize positive impacts for their clients and how providers can be further supported in their service delivery aims. A process evaluation is also intended to inform future investment in the program and support continuous improvement and learning.
Broadly, outcome evaluations measure how clients, and their circumstances, change and whether the treatment experience has been a factor in bringing about any change. Findings from an outcome evaluation can also be used for continuous quality improvement of individual programs and organizations,
Evaluation of the Chicago Advancing Cities Project
JPMorgan Chase & Co. foundation made a 3-year, $7.2 million grant in August 2020 for the Chicago Advancing Cities project, a collaboration between The Resurrection Project, Lawndale Christian Development Corporation (LCDC) and Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP).
The overarching project objective is to increase homeownership and neighborhood quality in three Chicago neighborhoods: Back of the Yards (also known as New City), North Lawndale, and Chicago Lawn.
GCI was retained to evaluate the project to capture changes in the quality-of-life:
- in and around clusters of housing construction and renovation, and
- in the three larger community areas.
This will be accomplished by:
- analyzing project records over the three years of the project,
- comparing possible changes in real estate value and crime over the course of the project, and
- comparing first and final year survey results for project participants and residents.
Evaluation of the Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) Grant Program for the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA)
GCI is partnering with the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) as the lead research evaluator and consultant on a statewide evaluation of the Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) grant program. There will be three phases to the project: a process evaluation of grant programs, an outcome evaluation of grant programs, and an analysis of statewide impact of the R3 grant program.
In the first phase, GCI undertook a community-based evaluation of six grantees/sites and produce a guide to best practices for conducting community-based evaluation.
Evaluation of the Connecting Capital and Community (3C) initiative
The Connecting Capital and Community (3C) initiative, facilitated and funded by the Chicago Community Trust and JP Morgan Chase, was designed to provide affordable and equitable homeownership, support economic opportunity, and inclusive recovery for underserved communities. The evaluation will address the multiple objectives of providing sustainable homeownership that generates wealth building opportunities for Black and Latinx households, maintaining a stock of affordably priced owner-occupied housing, and inclusive recovery for underserved communities of color.