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  • Learning & Evaluation Framework // Page 1

    Learning & Evaluation Framework

  • Learning & Evaluation Framework // Page 3


    In 2016, Astraea’s program team set out to create a system for learning and evaluation, as a means to enable us to more holistically understand, communicate about, and learn from the contributions we are making as a public foundation to LGBTQI movements for social, racial, economic and gender justice. Specifically, we sought to:

    • Articulate how our work advances social change (in a particular theme or geography, or overall)

    • Learn from and with our grantee partners’ contributions to social change over time

    • Capture the value of how we work with partners and movements

    • Integrate learning and reflection throughout our programmatic work

    • Uphold our accountability to our diverse stakeholders, including the movements we support.

    The following table of outcomes and indicators builds on the program team’s work, over a period of several months and with support from an external consultant, to clarify our philosophy and practice of change (including our programmatic vision, values, lineage, beliefs, and core strategies), and to identify the goals, outcomes, and indicators that guide our work and shape our decisions. For a more complete exploration of our philosophy and practice of change—which was itself informed by feedback and recommendations from colleagues on Astraea’s staff and board, as well as our grantee partners, funders, and peers—please see our Theory of Change document.

    As part of the process of clarifying our Theory of Change, Astraea program staff articulated four overarching program goals, organized according to the four institutional pillars that guide our work:

    • Goal 1: Our grantmaking to organizations supports frontline LGBTQI activists to make autonomous decisions, set their own social change agendas, respond to evolving conditions, care for themselves and their communities, build power, and influence wider movements. Our grantmaking to artists supports them to tell stories and create art that challenges stereotypes, expands understanding, sparks joy, and inspires action.

    • Goal 2: As an expression of solidarity, we accompany our grantees by providing access to the resources, expertise, networks, skills, tools, and funding they

    need to build their resilience and their individual and collective power, and to deepen and extend their impact.

    • Goal 3: We strengthen LGBTQI artists and activists’ ability to challenge norms and assumptions, shape their own narratives, build power and visibility, and shift critical conversations relevant to their lives through access to funding, networks, skills, communications and media tools, and digital technologies.

    • Goal 4: We aim to transform philanthropy to be responsive, accessible, accountable, inclusive and transparent and to fund LGBTQI issues, communities, and rights with a race, class and gender justice lens, as well as a bodily diversity and autonomy lens, which will drive more and better funding to communities most impacted by discrimination, violence and institutional oppression.

    Although our goals are ambitious, we believe that over time, our collective efforts should be able to generate four categories of changes:

    • Outcome Level One: In our grantee partners’ external impact

    • Outcome Level Two: In our grantee partners’ internal capacities

    • Outcome Level Three: In LGBTQI and allied social justice movements

    • Outcome Level Four: In the philanthropic sector

    The following outcomes and indicators are organized into the four categories listed above, with a degree of overlap from one category to the next. Each outcome level includes several possible outcomes, and a set of corresponding indicators. We came up with several changes that our grantmaking, capacity-building and leadership development, media and communications work, and philanthropic advocacy will contribute to over time at each outcome level, and for each of those changes, a set of possible indications that progress is occurring.

    The outcomes and indicators below were selected based on our own experiences; what we have learned from four decades of work to support and serve activists and movements working to spark change and bring about justice in a variety of geographic, political, social, and cultural contexts; and our peers’ and allies’ thinking and research about how change happens. They are

  • Page 4 // Learning & Evaluation Framework

    also deeply informed by our core values – feminism, intersectionality, responsiveness, inclusion, collectivity, and courage – and our beliefs about how change happens, which are summarized below:

    1. Social change is messy, unpredictable, and non- linear. What initially might seem like a setback might in fact be an indication of progress—only time will tell.

    2. True social change is collective. While some may seek out ‘movement leaders’ and individual ‘change- makers,’ we honor the reality that no single actor or organization can make lasting change alone, and change runs deeper and lasts longer when it is brought about by collective action. Movements that are founded on shared decision-making, transformative leadership, and deep base-building are less likely to exclude certain groups or individuals, or make decisions that leave entire communities behind.

    3. We all have a role in the change process, but the deepest and most lasting change is led by those who are directly impacted by the conditions and problems that need addressing. Support must be aligned around their agendas and priorities.

    4. Social change is complex: it has many dimensions, and progress is necessary in all of them. For example, changes in laws and policies are necessary, but not sufficient, to affect people’s lives. Changes in awareness, cultural norms, and access to services and resources are also critical.

    5. Much organizing, particularly led by people who are targeted by the state, is intentionally underground, and as a result, can appear invisible to funders or to more mainstream progressive groups. We recognize the role that stealth organizing plays in bringing about change, and the challenges that can cause in a sector where funding and recognition often depend on broad visibility.

    6. Healing is inseparable from wider processes of liberation and social justice. Beyond taking action, grassroots organizers need time to build collective safety, well-being, trust, and community, to reflect and connect, and to build power to confront and transform the generational trauma, institutional oppression, and violence in their lives.

    7. Deep social change takes a long time, and requires deep faith, strategy, practice, and patience. As we have learned, those invested in supporting such change are committed to the struggle for the long haul.

    8. Social change involves strategic decisions. To cope with the lack of alignment between transformative visions and imperfect realities, we sometimes have

    to make difficult decisions in order to build the power and progress we need to get closer to realizing our goals. Such decisions should always be transparent, participatory, and guided by our deepest values.

    9. Liberation requires radical change in how power and resources are shared. Organizations seeking to challenge oppressive norms and systems must have strategies for building power and organizing their communities and movements, and the role of social justice funders is to ensure that they have the resources they need to do their work.

    The beliefs listed above not only guided our selection of the most meaningful and relevant outcomes and indicators, they also shape our thinking about and approach to evaluation. As we move forward with putting a new system for learning and evaluation into practice, we will be guided by the following principles:

    • Focus on contribution rather than attribution. Although it is important to lift up and celebrate our victories, as well as the victories of the organizations and movements we support, we must always keep in mind that no one actor is responsible for change. Change is both complex and collective, and the efforts of both visible and invisible partners and predecessors make each victory possible—our people have been resisting, organizing, and fighting throughout history, and the success of contemporary movements builds on a legacy of largely invisible, uncelebrated efforts. In funding and organizing climates that often incentivize and reward individuals and organizations that take credit for collective victories, we recognize that our efforts—and the efforts of the organizations and movements we support—are part of a complex ecosystem, and that change is more lasting and sustainable when it is the result of collective action. For these reasons, we will aim not to take credit for work in ways that don’t recognize these realities.

    • Recognize our role as a grantmaker. The question of credit and contribution is particularly relevant for us as a public foundation, since it is not uncommon in the funding world for organizations that provide funding, training, and a variety of other monetary and non-monetary resources to claim responsibility for the changes that result from the work their resources supported. At Astraea, we seek to avoid this practice, while recognizing and exploring the important role that resources—whether that means funds, skills