By Mary Cox
I sat down at the table for dinner in the home of my host family, and asked my Abuela Tica about how she came to know “Mery and Drew” (our founders). She answered that she met them five years ago, when Abriendo Mentes started, and emphasized that Mery and Drew always came back. Meradith and Drew had made a commitment to the Potrero community, and they kept it.
This dedication seems to be a key to the success of Abriendo Mentes in the community. It is because of Abriendo Mentes’ dedication that they have gained the trust of the community here, something that is not easily given to foreigners. This trust has allowed AM to play an integral part in the development of Potrero, reaching beyond teaching English to children to include programs for both youth and adults – a full community economic development initiative.
All of this in four short years, and the flagship youth English classes are showing amazing results. AM kids are at the top of their class in school, and their parents excitedly share test scores, grades and success stories with us. These are just the outcomes we want to see.
Now for the hard part: tracking them. To really quantify and communicate our outcomes with others requires capturing and analyzing data. The right data. It’s a challenge for any organization, and even more so for a small organization because it means using more of your scarce resources – i.e. overhead. Our first step is to understand the specific questions about our impact that we want to answer, so we know what data we need to capture for each program. Then, we need to strike a balance between the data we want and the resources we have to capture the data to ensure tracking is sustainable. That is what I’m working with the team to do while I am here this summer.
I’m currently pursuing my MBA in International Business and Development, and am excited to bring my skills to AM as the Strategic Planning and Evaluation Intern this summer. In my work experience as a Technology Business Analyst, I used many strategies to capture and analyze data for projects, and, as a Manager, I learned the importance of tracking and sharing data over time to know my team was achieving its objectives. It is a pleasure for me to help AM implement these practices, to demonstrate how it is truly serving is mission.
Dedication to keeping commitments is a deep-seeded value at Abriendo Mentes – an organization that is committed to measuring its outcomes. So keep an eye on us to continue to hear more of our success stories, and as data comes in, to see how great our impact really is.