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Research Questions

  1. What are the most common types of CVE programs, and what are their specific evaluation needs?
  2. Which evaluation measures and evaluation approaches have been used and tested by previous evaluation studies, can they be applied to CVE programs, and how can program staff incorporate them into their own evaluations?
  3. How can program staff design an evaluation that is appropriate for their program type and available resources and expertise?
  4. What are the most useful ways to analyze the data resulting from an evaluation of a CVE program's effectiveness, and how can these data be used to make improvements?

Countering violent extremism (CVE) requires addressing the conditions and reducing the underlying factors that give rise to radicalization and recruitment. Evaluations are critical for assessing the impact of community-based CVE programs and informing decisions about how to allocate often-scarce resources. Choosing the most rigorous evaluation approach a program can sustain will provide its staff and funders with the most accurate view possible of whether the program is achieving its goals or whether efforts should be continued, scaled up, or discontinued. The RAND Program Evaluation Toolkit for Countering Violent Extremism was designed to help CVE program staff overcome common challenges to evaluating and planning improvements to their programs. This report summarizes the complementary methods used to develop the toolkit: a review of the evaluation literature on CVE programs; the development of a taxonomy of general types of CVE programs, their activities, and their target audiences; and interviews with CVE program managers to identify data collection practices and challenges to evaluation. This was followed by a pilot test of the draft toolkit with a subset of CVE program managers. Feedback from this pilot test informed revisions to the toolkit to ensure that it would serve as a helpful resource for CVE programs in evaluating their activities, informing resource allocations and program improvements, and — ultimately — reducing the risk of violent extremism in their communities.

Key Findings

There Is a Need for a Comprehensive Toolkit to Help Community-Based CVE Programs Evaluate the Impact of Their Activities

  • Community-based CVE programs represent a critical tool in the fight against all forms of extremism, but little is known about their effectiveness. This limits the degree to which programs and funders can make informed decisions about program improvements and whether to sustain, scale up, or discontinue program activities.

The RAND Program Evaluation Toolkit for Countering Violent Extremism Incorporates the Latest Research and Feedback from CVE Program Managers

  • The toolkit's development included a review of the CVE program evaluation literature, which offers guidance and measures for a range of program types, program goals, and target audiences.
  • The toolkit is informed by research on existing CVE programs and their activities and target audiences. The toolkit's content, including checklists, worksheets, and templates, also address evaluation challenges reported by CVE program managers in a series of interviews.
  • It is important that the toolkit remain user-friendly while guiding program staff through the evaluation process. Pilot testing the toolkit with CVE program managers helped ensure that users would be comfortable using the tools and that the instructions were clear and applicable to their evaluations.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction and Overview

  • Chapter Two

    Development of the CVE Program Evaluation Toolkit

  • Chapter Three

    Pilot Testing the Toolkit

  • Chapter Four

    Conclusion

  • Appendix A

    Summary of CVE Evaluation Studies

  • Appendix B

    Feedback Form Used in the Pilot Test of the RAND Evaluation Toolkit for CVE Programs

This research was sponsored by the Office of Community Partnerships in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and conducted in the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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