Building evidence

Culturally specific principles

As noted in the “What is Principle-Based Evaluation?” having cultural specific principles can help guide an organization in measuring principle driven outcomes.  

When thinking about the work that they do, our workgroup organizations noticed that they really had not had the opportunity to write down the ingredients that made their daily work culturally-specific. They felt this was common for many community-based organizations.  So, they decided that their contribution to the toolkit would be focused on developing cultural-specific principles and tools for evaluating these principles.

First, they decided that they needed to define the ingredients to culturally specific work so they set on a journey to identify and define cultural-specific principles.  They started here because doing culturally specific work is so much about “how” we do the work and the values that drive our organizations.

For this process, the workgroup spent many hours in person and virtually discussing and identifying what they understood as the underlying principles of cultural-specific community based work. In other words, based on their collective experience and expertise in the family violence field in 4 different Latin@ communities across the U.S., they identified principles that can be utilized to help others think about their own work from a cultural perspective.

What are cultural-specific principles developed by the workgroup?

  1. In order to effectively work with Latin@ communities, community based organizations must aim for a deep understanding of the community they serve.
    • Organizations represent that Latin@s have different experiences which shape our worldview in unique ways including: gender identity, generational status, religion, biculturalism, indigenous heritage, etc.  
    • Organizations acknowledge the multiple and intersecting cultures of participants. (e.g. Trans culture, deaf culture, biculturalism, transnational, migrant cultures, etc.).
    • Organizations define family broadly to include the diversity of families (e.g. LGBTQ, mixed documentation statuses, extended kin, and transnational families, etc.).
  1. Organizations tailor their activities to reflect the realities of their participants and aim to meet the needs of the whole person.
    • Organizations incorporate Latin@ cultural worldviews, including the importance of family, the value of children, and the power of sharing their stories in their native language.
    • Organizations address intersecting issues present in Latin@’s lives (e.g., poverty, racism, immigration stressors, etc.).
    • Organizations deeply understand the lived realities of the people whom they work with.
  1. Organizations work towards the collective healing of communities.
    • Organizations promote collective and community healing.
    • Organizations understand the collective trauma for their community (e.g. forced displacement, forced assimilation, subjections to civil and personal violence, coupled with poverty and neglect over many generations culminate to collective experiences of trauma.)
    • Organizations understand that all oppressions are interrelated, and work to change other systems for which the community interacts (e.g. immigration, child protective services, healthcare, etc.)
  1. Alternative spaces are created that build on the cultural strengths of Latin@ communities.
    • Organizations provide spaces where Latin@ culture is positively represented and where members are encouraged to follow their traditions.
    • Organizations’ leadership reflects personnel from the Latin@ community.
  1. Promote an organization of collaboration and minimal hierarchical structures in which participants and/or communities have equal voice with staff to shape program activities.
    • Organization engages community and participants to shape their organization and programming.
    • The organization engages in self-reflection on community engagement process.
  1. Prioritize safety and trust.
    • Organizations intentionally create safe environments away from discrimination and immigrant enforcement.
    • The pace at which participants’ progress through a program should reflect their timing (not ours) in order to enhance building trust and enhance safety.
    • Organizations mirror the collectivist culture by collaborating with other organizations (that are also safe and are trusted by the community) to maximize access to resources.  

Community-centered evaluation approaches

Perhaps you’ve had the experience of a family member in the kitchen giving you feedback as you prepare a dish for the first time. Evaluation is happening around us in our day-to-day lives more often than you think!

As you develop plans and begin to implement your program, who do you let in the kitchen? What tools are available to you to measure, create, and document your work? How is your program recipe and work shared with others?

An evaluation approach helps guide the development of evaluation questions, data collection, analysis, and how you interpret and share the results (also referred to as dissemination). Traditionally, program evaluation requirements are outlined by a grant funder, program developers, or administrators. Participatory and other community-centered evaluation approaches are consistent with Esperanza United’s community-centered evidence-based practice (CCEBP) model. A focus on community strengths are a common feature of the methods and tools in this section. While we highlight the applicability to gender-based and domestic violence practice, the approaches have been used in a range of community-based and culturally specific settings.