Technical Assistance Guidelines Step 2: Setting Goals and Intended Outcomes
Set Overall Program Goals
Once you have determined potential available funding, local support needs, and appropriate TA activities, establish goals to inform the structure of the TA program. In addition to specifying State, agency, and program goals as well as findings from your needs and gaps analysis, SGC recommends incorporating seven Core Principles into your TA goals. Some think of this step as establishing a theory of change – identifying how and why a desired outcome is expected to happen through programmatic activities. Setting program goals early helps the TA development team:
- Identify expected and desired outcomes
- Ensure the TA program responds to State, agency, program, and community priorities
- Determine program structure
- Identify communities, populations, and stakeholders to engage
- Establish effective processes for selecting the right TA provider(s)
- Evaluate program successes and opportunities for refinement
- Consider the appropriate level of flexibility and adaptability within TA provision
Incorporating clearly written program goals as part of a TA program scope of work or internal guidance document provides an important resource for agency staff. Collaborate with internal and external partners to develop these goals and ensure that all stakeholders involved in a TA effort clearly understand them. These goals can aid you in communicating the approach to agency leadership and administrative/contracting staff as well as ensuring that the program continues to be successful in the event of staff turnover.
Clarifying program goals can inform the development of unique approaches to the structure of the TA program. For example, if a TA program goal is to build relationships with under-resourced communities, it may be helpful to partner with a community-based organization with existing relationships in target communities to implement the program. Further, if a goal is to increase awareness of a new program or initiative, you may consider a program timeline and outreach approach that allows for more engagement with eligible communities prior to the application phase. Where possible, re-engaging with agency staff and stakeholders who helped inform needs and gaps can maximize the effectiveness of this goal setting-process.
Center Social and Racial Equity
As described in the Core Principles page, social and racial equity are central to the State’s TA and capacity building efforts. Setting equity as a foundational goal and stated mission of your TA program helps ensure that all program partners have a shared understanding of the TA objectives. However, simply stating that equity is a goal of your TA effort is not sufficient to ensure that the process and outcomes of the TA will be equitable. The Greenlining Institute (2019) offers the following four key steps to “making equity real,” which comprise a helpful framework for incorporating equity into your agency’s TA and capacity building work:
- Embed equity in the mission, vision, and values – Explicitly setting social and racial equity goals from the beginning of a TA effort and ensuring that all partners fully understand these goals is a critical first step.
- Build equity into the process – Incorporating social and racial equity considerations in TA program outreach as well as in the selection process for TA providers and recipients is critical to meeting equitable outcomes. This may include creating targets for TA recipients from certain groups or geographic areas. For example, CDFA’s Climate Smart Agriculture TA program includes a provision that at least 25% of TA recipients qualify as Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (SDFRs).
- Ensure equity outcomes – While incorporating equity in the process of providing TA will support the attainment of equitable outcomes, it is also important to ensure that the content of the program itself is leading to equity. For example, if you are providing TA to a disadvantaged community, are the most vulnerable populations within that community engaged in determining the outcomes of TA effort?
- Measure and analyze for equity – It is impossible to know if your program is meeting its equity goals without intentionally evaluating equity metrics. Setting clear goals in the beginning of the TA effort and documenting decisions made in program design and implementation to reach equity goals are important in being able to effectively evaluate outcomes. See the Evaluation page for more information.