Teaching Case: Evaluation of the Packard Foundation’s Preschool for California’s Children Grantmaking Program

This case focuses on the evaluation of the Packard Foundation’s Preschool for California’s Children grantmaking program. It is intended to promote a critical analysis of the evaluation and its evolving interaction with the grantmaking program and strategy, rather than an analysis of the grantmaking strategy itself. TheĀ  case chronicles the evaluation’s nine-year evolution, and identifies key points at which it switched course because methods were not working, or because the Foundation’s strategy shifted. It highlights several questions/challenges, all of which are relevant to strategic learning approaches, such as:

  • How to ensure the evaluation is useful to multiple audiences (board, funder, grantees)
  • How to “embed” the evaluator in a reasonable way while maintaining role boundaries
  • How to manage often competing learning versus accountability needs
  • How to time data collection so it is “just in time” but also reliable and credible
  • How to get information that does not just verify what program officers already know


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