Evaluation of the Community Initiatives Fund
The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies (CFA), a grantmaking public charity, has committed to improving the Greater Johnstown community (which includes Bedford, Cambria, Somerset and Indiana counties in Pennsylvania). It provides the region with the resources it needs to thrive and forms strong partnerships that build an inclusive and engaged culture of givers and doers. The CFA manages donor investment funds to make philanthropic grants in the region, with more than $6.1 million distributed in 2019 and $58.5 million distributed since its inception in 1990 (through 2019).
The Richard King Mellon Foundation partnered with the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies to create the Community Initiatives Fund (CIF), which is focused on the areas of conservation, education, regional economic development, and, secondarily, human services. This evaluation was conducted to better understand: 1) the impact that the CIF grants have had in the community around areas of focus, in both tangible (e.g. dollars invested) and intangible (e.g. changes in civic engagement) results; and 2) the impact that the CFA staff has had in supporting community transformation, including providing capacity, leveraging R.K. Mellon investments, and serving as a community-wide resource.
Fourth Economy developed an evaluation framework to assess both the measurable impacts and the ways in which the CFA has helped to transform the community. This included a review of prior grant reports and related studies and materials, a survey of the grantees to collect quantitative and qualitative impacts that resulted from CIF projects, a public survey to gauge public perceptions about changes in the community, and finally interviews and focus groups with grant recipients.
Fourth Economy provided an evaluation report of the results for use in public presentations. Furthermore, the results of the public survey were shared and disseminated in Johnstown’s The Tribune-Democrat newspaper.