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relations to enhance the program’s image with potential sponsors, decisionmakers, or the general public; staff training, including the training of thedirect service staff; recruiting and retention of key personnel; developingand maintaining relationships with affiliated programs, referral sources,and other external collaborators; obtaining materials required for services;and general advocacy on behalf of the target population served.Program process evaluation schemes can, and often should, incorporateindicators of vital program support functions along with indicators relatingto service activities. In form, such indicators and the process foridentifying them are no different than for program services. The criticalactivities first must be identified and described in specific, concrete termsresembling service units; for example, units of fund-raising activity and175
dollars raised, number, length, and quality of training sessions, number andcharacteristics of attendees at advocacy events, and the like. Measures arethen developed that are capable of differentiating good from poorperformance. These measures can then be included in the processevaluation or program monitoring procedures along with those dealingwith other aspects of program performance.Exhibit 4-G Summertime Distribution of Books for Children in Low-Income CommunitiesNoting persistent achievement gaps between economicallydisadvantaged children and their more affluent peers and the academicslide that occurs for lower performing children during the summer, apilot book distribution program was established in four low-incomeneighborhoods. During the summer in both Detroit and Washington,D.C., age-appropriate books were placed in vending machines designedto dispense the books (see picture) at no cost. The vending machineswere placed in high-traffic places near churches or childcare centers andavailable to passers-by. Books were restocked frequently, and newtitles, including fiction and nonfiction offerings, were added throughoutthe summer. Childcare centers and parents were notified of theavailability of the books and the location of the machines.The evaluators made a total of 48 two-hour observations of the activityaround the vending machines and conducted short interviews withindividuals who either retrieved books or viewed them without takingone. They also administered several short assessments, including booktitle recognition and pre- and postsummer assessments of children’sreading skills.176
During the summer, the vending machines distributed 64,435 books intotal, 59% of which went to return users. On average, 180 peoplepassed the sites over the 2-hour observation periods, and about 50 ofthem visited the vending machines. The visitors were primarily peopleof color, and the majority at each site were female. The percentage ofrepeat visitors ranged from 33% to 52%. The numbers of booksobtained by children of different age ranges were similar, with slightlyfewer for 10- to 14-year-olds. More than two thirds of the booksdistributed were fiction. Interestingly, children who visited the vending