External Evaluation

WIP’s Board commissioned an external evaluation throughout 2012.

Completed by Pamela Montgomery, former Director of Atlantic Philanthropies in Northern Ireland, its purpose was to independently assess WIP in order to inform future strategic direction and identify the impact of the Program.

This evaluation prompted a review and re-artirculation of our vision/mission and the expansion of our work to engage and support our Alumni/ae.

A brief summary of the context and summation of the conclusions is listed below. To read the full report please click here.

Context
This report provides an evaluation of the Washington Ireland Program (WIP). The Washington Ireland Program (WIP) is a US based Not for Profit organisation which aims to deliver a high quality leadership development program for young leaders from Northern Ireland and Ireland engaged in higher or further education. Its stated vision is ‘building a network of young leaders from all communities with the skills to address the societal issues of the past and the confidence and capacity to create a more peaceful and prosperous future for both Ireland and Northern Ireland’.

In August 2012 WIP commissioned an external evaluation of its 2012 program. While a number of internal exercises have been undertaken to assess specific aspects of WIP this represents the first external evaluation of the program to date.

The overall purpose of the evaluation was to independently assess the core program to inform future strategic direction and to identify the impact of the program.

Conclusions
1. WIP is delivering on its objectives of facilitating the development of the leadership, professional and networking skill base of young leaders in Northern Ireland and Ireland and deepening understanding of relations between both parts of the island of Ireland.

2. In addition to the development of skills and knowledge, the evidence is that young leaders leave the WIP program with new perspectives on old issues, international, cross-border and cross-community frames of reference, broadened horizons and the confidence and self awareness to make a difference in their communities.

3. WIP is providing opportunities for young people to meet and engage in meaningful debate about the future of Northern Ireland and Ireland as nations and neighbours in a context where such opportunities remain limited.

4. Overall, the program has been shown to be meeting the needs of the young leaders it serves and as being very well regarded by its alumni and external stakeholders.

5. Based on the contributions of a small sample of alumni, there is evidence that the skill and personal development outcomes of the program are sustained over the longer term. In particular, the understanding developed as a result of the programme of the personal role of leaders in contributing to a better society through their career roles, public service and their support of community based or other Not for Profit activity is maintained.

6. WIP employs a leadership curriculum which incorporates elements of good practice in leadership development including mentoring, action learning and networking. It has been found that some refocusing of the program design would maximise program effectiveness in relation to the development of leadership and professional skills.

7. Overall, it has been concluded that the program design would benefit from and should be informed by a more clearly articulated vision of what societal outcomes and impact WIP is seeking to achieve. This would enable the substantive elements of the program content to be better focussed on these longer term impacts. This will also be critical as WIP seeks to engage with its alumni in a more focussed and structured way. In addition, it would enable the development of indicators against which performance could be more easily accessed.

8. Overall, WIP is meeting its objective of recruiting a diverse group of young leaders but needs to build on its achievements to date to ensure it is inclusive of all traditions on the island of Ireland and reflects the changing face of society which has become more diverse culturally and ethnically.

9. The 475 program alumni represent a significant resource of individuals many of whom will now be in senior leadership roles across a range of sectors. WIP now has the capacity to begin to engage with this potential resource in a structured and strategic way to support its overall goal.

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