The Barr Foundation’s Barr Fellowship is a two-year program designed to invest in exceptional civic leaders, to strengthen their organizations, and to cultivate a network of leaders committed to Greater Boston. This fellowship was conceived in 2005 and has since connected 80 leaders from many backgrounds, organizations, and fields. Community Science assessed the outcomes for the class of 2017, reviewed and synthesized the latest knowledge about leadership development, surveyed the alumni, tested the program’s theory of change, and recommended improvements to the program as part of our evaluation.

Using qualitative and quantitative methods, we helped the Barr fellows reflect on how they have become stronger civic leaders, and how their organizations have benefited from their fellowship experience. Our team also collected data from the fellows’ coaches and organizations’ leadership to obtain a more complete picture of the program’s impact. Our evaluation paid close attention to the extent to which the fellows are able to apply a systems and equity framework to strengthen their civic leadership and Boston’s civic sector. In addition, we surveyed the alumni to learn more about the nature and results of the civic leadership network cultivated by the Barr Foundation.

The Barr Foundation learned more about the rewards and challenges of the different components of the program and made adjustments as a result of the evaluation. The adjustments will certainly benefit future fellows.