An Overview of the Methods, Best Practices, and Lessons Learned to Measuring Youth Leadership Development through the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) program

Session Number: 2217
Track: Youth Focused Evaluation
Session Type: Panel
Session Chair: Sierra Frischknecht [Program Associate - Social Impact]
Presenter 1: Sierra Frischknecht [Program Associate - Social Impact]
Presenter 2: Anne Laesecke [Monitoring and Evaluation Officer - IREX]
Time: Nov 11, 2017 (10:15 AM - 11:00 AM)
Room: Washington 5

Abstract 1 Title: Evaluating Youth Leadership Development through the YALI Regional Leadership Centers Program
Presentation Abstract 1:

Leadership means and represents different concepts to different people and is inherently challenging to measure. As the MasterCard Foundation’s Learning Partner for the YALI RLC program, SI is working with four RLCs to understand how stakeholders, including RLC staff and young leaders, define leadership, and how the program contributes to leadership development. Measuring leadership in this context requires a fine balance – one that allows comparison between and across countries and RLCs to determine progress toward programmatic objectives; while simultaneously remaining flexible and individualized to young leaders’ needs and definitions of success. SI will discuss its work with the RLCs and will share preliminary conclusions from data collected via a suite of monitoring tools, and through its recent evaluation and learning work. This includes through the development of appropriate questions to gauge leadership attributes, tracking leadership goals, and using Most Significant Change to reflect on participant perspectives.


Abstract 2 Title: Evaluating Youth Leadership Development through the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program
Presentation Abstract 2:

Evaluation of leadership development programs has long been difficult, as outcomes often are individualized, intangible, and cannot be seen immediately after participation. The Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative, has benefited nearly 2,000 young African leaders from over 50 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and aims to build Fellows’ skills to start and grow businesses, improve the accountability and transparency of government, and serve their communities. This session will discuss the mixed-methods approach that IREX has used to evaluate Africa-based follow-on activities such as practicums, mentorships, and networking opportunities meant to sustain the outcomes of U.S.-based programming. This includes such methods as social network analysis to understand how social capital contributes to leadership development; statistically reliable scales to measure individual leadership traits; and participatory methods such as Most Significant Change to ground findings in Fellows’ experiences.


Theme: Learning to Enhance Evaluation
Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract (150 words): 

Youth leadership is a complex topic to pinpoint and measure, highly dependent on context, culture, and desired outcomes. Assessing the progress of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), which reaches thousands of young leaders throughout Sub Saharan Africa through training, mentorship, internship opportunities, and alumni support, is thus tricky. Social Impact (SI) and IREX are tackling this definitional and measurement challenge through a variety of methods and approaches.

This presentation will cover work through both the YALI Regional Leadership Centers (RLC) and the YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship program. Social Impact and IREX will discuss their different approaches to measuring this complex topic – including through the use of KAB surveys, goal tracking, Most Significant Change, social network analysis, and leadership scales.