Evaluation of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Teams Pilot: Final Report. 5.3.1 Opportunities for Improving the Overall Program Design

08/25/2014

Clearly defining the SC2 approach. At the outset of the SC2 pilot, it was difficult for team members to clearly articulate what this new model was to be. As a result, there was considerable confusion among city stakeholders, team members and their supervisors, and agency leadership about the roles that team members would play, what could be expected of them, and what the city’s contributions to the effort should be. There is an opportunity now, at the culmination of the pilot, to more clearly articulate the theory of change behind the SC2 initiative, to develop a logic model that lays out the specific kinds of problems SC2 teams are expected to resolve and the kinds of outcomes it is reasonable to assume they will achieve. It may be beneficial to clearly articulate the outcomes for the federal government and the inputs and activities needed to accomplish those outcomes. For example, to what extent is the SC2 initiative intended to alter the way the federal government operates across all U.S. cities versus how it operates in the specific cities in which SC2 teams are deployed? Such a logic model could potentially allow more deliberate and informed design of SC2 engagements, from the types of cities selected to the federal employees assigned to the types of activities on which team members work.

Modifying the approach for lower-capacity cities. The SC2 approach, in which a large team of federal employees simultaneously arrive to work with city staff, is best suited to cities with enough capacity to identify and prioritize ways that the team members can be beneficial. The cities must also have the staff capacity to engage with team members, implement some of their ideas, and capitalize on deeper relationships with federal decision makers. The initial pilot revealed ways the SC2 approach could be further modified for the lowest-capacity cities, such as a longer planning period, more support on data collection during the assessment process, and outcome measures that document capacity-building accomplishments (for city government) alongside accomplishments on economic development goals.

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