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Learning and Evaluation

We learn alongside our grantee partners.

A group of women learning about organic farming.
How we evaluate

In traditional philanthropy, the foundation sets the metrics of success and requires the grantees to demonstrate that their work is meeting them. Headwaters takes a different approach to evaluation. We created a process that centers learning together, positioning grantees and the foundation as true partners in the work to improve health in Western Montana.

We evaluate for three purposes – accountability to the communities we serve, learning about progress toward the outcomes defined by our partners, and tracking long-term health metrics over time to see if the strategies that Headwaters invests in are contributing to positive trends.

Through grantee reporting conversations, we track indicators related to the following outcomes:

Increased capacity and leadership in the organizations and collaboratives we support.
Cultural and narrative shifts take place that prioritize health as a community responsibility rather than an individual one.
Underrepresented voices engage in policy advocacy.
A better environment for the advocacy of policies that reduce barriers to health.
Greater funding for reducing barriers to health and wellbeing from both public and private sources.
An increase in services available that address social and economic barriers to health.
Stronger relationships and collaboration between organizations from different sectors.

Each year, we publish what we are learning in our Evaluation & Learning Data Book. We invite you to dig into what we are learning in our most recent edition.