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Capstone Feature: Using Measurement & Evaluation to Improve Communities

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Masters in Measurement & Evaluation alumna, Jillian Klarman
Masters in Measurement & Evaluation alumna, Jillian Klarman.

At the end of the Masters degree program in Measurement & Evaluation, students are given the unique opportunity to partake in a capstone project that directly exercises the skills they’ve acquired. Jillian Klarman, a Financial Assistant at the World Bank and a rising measurement & evaluation professional in the international development sector, chose to directly apply her newfound knowledge to the sector and community that means the most to her.

“I've always loved working with people from other cultures and learning from them. Being able to help other people is my main goal.”

For Jillian’s capstone project, she worked with an international organization called Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP) to develop a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation plan to help elevate the programs they house globally. Jillian noticed that there wasn't a way for all of the YPFP branches around the globe to have access to central information, so she recommended several cloud-based qualitative and quantitative systems that would help the organization identify growth indicators and provide data reporting services.

“I included a systems map, which identifies the connections among the various elements of the organization as well as gaps; a program theory of change; a logic model; technology recommendations; as well as tools and recommendations for implementing the plan.”

Although Jillian had no prior professional experience with evaluating an organization before participating in the program, it ultimately “ended up being a great experience, and I think the plan I made for them will help them improve their efficiency - hopefully making a better impact [for their stakeholders],” she explains.

Indeed, Jillian understood that the main goal of her evaluation of FYPF was for it to work practically for internal purposes to improve efficiency and understand effective ways they can be more accountable to current and future funders.

Before participating in the Masters in Measurement & Evaluation, Jillian worked for several small nonprofits in the international development sector, including one in which she managed the volunteer program for a community development organization focused on education, environment, and health initiatives in Nicaragua. She knew that gaining new and important skills would only help further her personal mission.

“I wanted to gain expertise to help organizations improve their impact and find better ways to achieve their goals. From there, I realized a real need for monitoring and evaluation. So, I ended up taking the certificate [program]to learn more about it, and I liked it so much that I transfered into the masters program.”

Designed with the contributions of an advisory council of industry experts and practitioners, the Measurement & Evaluation curriculum prepares its students for current and future career demands. The end-of-program capstone serves a dual purpose: expose creative and ambitious students with projects in a real-world setting and connect them with stakeholders that will expand their professional network.

Because of the expertise she gained from the M&E program, Jillian notes that she is now able to expand what she does in her current role as Financial Advisor at the World Bank. She conducted an analysis of the third-party training and exams that her team provided within the past year and offered a summary of their accomplishments along with recommendations on improvements the team could incorporate.

“In the future, I hope to work in a position [within international development] that gives me more exposure to different programs, allowing me to find my niche within measurement and evaluation.”

In the meantime, she’s likely reminiscing about the unique benefits of a student partaking in an online course. In Jillian’s experience, the course enabled her to travel internationally, from Nicaragua to Iceland.

“I traveled to Nicaragua for two weeks last summer and was still able to do my classwork from Airbnbs and hotels. It was so nice to be able to have a flexible schedule and still work toward my Masters. You wouldn't be able to do that with another type of program.”