Evidence for Change: A Fellowship for Social Sector Organizations
A nine-month program for California-based nonprofits working for social change
The Stanford Impact Labs Evidence for Change fellowship is a nine-month fellowship program for California-based nonprofit organizations working for social change that want to invest in using data and evidence to drive the impact of their programs or advocacy efforts.
The fellowship focuses on building capacity and strengthening systems for organizations that are using (or are poised to use) data and evidence to design and improve advocacy, programs, and services; more deeply understand and call out community needs; and/or learn about the impact of their efforts.
What We Mean by Evidence
When we say “evidence,” we are referring to diverse types of qualitative and quantitative information that might be leveraged in making strategic decisions. This could include:
- conversations with community members
- program participation data
- perceptions of advocacy messages
- outcome data for program beneficiaries
The fellowship is a particularly good fit for organizations that are already (often organically) collecting this information or those that have access to data and want to enhance and streamline how it is used to make decisions. The fellowship is not focused on traditional academic research, although fellows do have the opportunity to collaborate with university-based scholars to meet impact-driven needs.
During the nine-month program, participants gather for cohort workshops, receive mentorship, and are granted $50,000 in funding to support their organizational efforts.
The fellowship kicks off with a three-day in-person workshop at Stanford University designed to help Fellows identify their organization’s learning goals and develop a plan for how to gather, analyze, and use the evidence they need to meet these goals. Over the subsequent months, Fellows operationalize their evidence plans, meeting regularly with Stanford Impact Labs (SIL) staff for technical advice and troubleshooting support. For Fellows who would like to partner with scholars to implement their plan, SIL helps facilitate connections with faculty and/or graduate students and advises on potential funding opportunities.
The fellowship culminates in a two-day in-person cohort gathering at Stanford University to share learnings and explore best practices for communicating about, and institutionalizing, evidence and data into practices.
Stanford has renewed its commitment to service and public impact as part of its long-range vision as a “purposeful university”. An ever-growing community of Stanford faculty, students, and staff are applying rigor and creativity to make progress on challenging social problems. As part of that community, SIL builds programs and makes investments that harness social science to drive change. We envision a world where measurable and meaningful approaches to social problems are co-created by communities, leaders, and science working together to unlock solutions and make progress.
We have spent three years building pathways inside the university for PhD students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty to work on complex problems with partners in the public and social sector. These programs equip scholars with the necessary skills to work closely with people outside of the university to generate evidence and insights that are put into practice. SIL is now turning its attention to support leaders who are using evidence to drive problem-solving in the public and social sectors.