Track: Strategy and Innovation Approaches 
Commitments: Measuring that Matters, Partnering with Purpose

Over the last decade, foundations, government organizations, and donors have demanded increased accountability for dollars invested. Those of us doing the work have learned that data-driven program evaluation produces a greater impact. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Chicago Benchmarking Collaborative (CBC), a partnership of seven well-established education and human services agencies that have committed to working together to implement data-informed program improvements.

In honor of this milestone, the CBC, in partnership with Boeing Community Engagement, has published a how-to guide, “Increasing Mission Impact through Collaborative Learning: Chicago Benchmarking Collaborative Processes and Toolkit.” This guide offers advice on how to leverage collaborative effort to increase the impact of evaluation. It is also intended to be useful to funders aiming to standardize data collection from grantees or convene grantees to share data in peer learning forums.

The Campfire Conversation will be led by Lori Baas, CEO of Christopher House and Traci Stanley, director of quality assurance at Christopher House and project manager of the CBC. The pair will share highlights from the how-to-guide touching on the four crucial stages of collaboration:

  • Establish Shared Visions and Goals
  • Build Capacity for Data Use and Collaborative Learning
  • Use Data and Improve Collaborative Practice
  • Sustain and Institutionalize Systems 

In addition to sharing lessons learned and key questions to ask at each stage of collaboration over the last 10 years, we will address the importance of leadership and clear vision to create the cultural change needed for effective data collaboration. We will share several examples of how we utilized shared data to improve outcomes for children and families across partner agencies.

After a 30-minute presentation, attendees will be invited to share their experiences and respond to a set of questions about culture, collaboration, and program evaluation.

The Chicago Benchmarking Collaborative has been featured in Stanford Social Innovation Review and MIT Sloan Management as a model of effective partnership and innovation in program evaluation and improvement. It was also the focus of a study at Northwestern University’s Network of Nonprofit and Social Impact that was published in Harvard Business Review.  

Learning Objectives:

  • How to overcome barriers to culture change through leadership, systems, and processes
  • How and when to engage outside consultants to create consensus
  • How to build trust and cohesion among partners
  • How to attract investors and finance collaborative mission impact
  • Practical ways to use data and improve mission impact  


  • Lori Baas, CEO, Christopher House, @chousechicago
  • Traci Stanley, director of quality assurance, Christopher House, @chousechicago