This guide is relevant for all tracks of the Request for Application (RFA).
The Opportunity Now RFA will ask you to provide evidence of the efficacy of your program and to develop an approach measuring outcomes through the grant program.
This guide is intended to support Scale applicants in articulating their approach to evidence and to support Seed and Planning applicants in developing foundations for an evidence-based approach.
What is an Evidence-Based Program?
According to Colorado House Bill HB22-1350 (2022), an evidence-based initiative is either:
- A proven program or practice: a program or practice for which there is a high or well-supported level of confidence of effectiveness as determined by one or more high-quality randomized controlled trials, multiple evaluations with strong comparison groups, or an equivalent measure
- An evidence-informed program or practice: a program or practice for which there is a moderate, supported, or promising level of confidence of effectiveness as determined by an evaluation with a comparison group, multiple pre- and post-evaluations, or an equivalent measure
Colorado Evidence Continuum
The Colorado Evidence Continuum model, developed by the State of Colorado and Pew Charitable Trusts, is a model that the state has used since 2014 to ensure that grant funds are applied to programs that work.
The model was designed to support programs at each stage of development by utilizing evidence-based approaches. In particular, new, innovative, and yet-to-be-proven models need to establish a foundation for data collection and performance measurement development in order to set themselves up to demonstrate evidence later on.
For the Opportunity Now RFA application…
- Scale applicants will be expected to demonstrate Steps 4 or 5 of the Colorado Evidence Continuum
- Seed applicants will be expected to demonstrate Steps 2 and 3 of the Colorado Evidence Continuum
- Planning applicants will be expected to demonstrate progress towards Step 1 of the Colorado Evidence Continuum
Characteristics of Strong Applications
Strong RFA applicants will:
- At least be able to share a clear theory of change that clearly explains how the program or model will work and create outcomes. A theory of change is any framework that outlines the strategies and associated activities (including the key players) involved in a given program/model that lead to clearly defined expected outcomes and the ultimate impact/goal.
- Share economic mobility performance measures (their own or their peers’) that tie to job placement and/or advancement
- Base their models on other known evidence-based models (e.g., registered apprenticeship models and governmental agencies’ models)
- Partner with industry and/or training partners that utilize evidence-based models
- Demonstrate that their solution is backed by outcome evaluations, including at least one of the following:
- Evaluation with a comparison group
- Multiple pre- and post-assessments
- Evaluation conducted using randomization
- Literature review of similar evidence-informed or proven models
- Provide measures related to job placement/advancement and economic mobility outcomes
- Be clear about their methodology and evaluation processes
For information on what constituted success for a demonstrable evidence base in Phase 1, see the recording of the Phase 1 RFA Feedback Webinar. Note that RFA questions and rubric are subject to change for Phase 2.
- Our Approach to Building Evidence – University of Denver: Colorado Evaluation & Action Lab
- Colorado’s ‘Evidence Continuum’ Promotes Efficient, Effective Public Programs – Pew Charitable Trusts