Improving Metrics of Analysis for Community Outreach Programs in Cantera, Puerto Rico

Sponsoring organization: Compañia para el Desarrollo Integral de la Peninsula de Cantera

Team members: Cailin Gonyea (Biomedical Engineering ’20), Peter Rakauskas (Biomedical Engineering ’20), Siearah Robles (Psychological Sciences ’20), & Samantha Vogel (Environmental Engineering ’20)

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Executive Summary: Underdeveloped communities all around the world face the challenge of creating a better life for their members. By working towards building better communities and providing for those in need, community outreach programs can help to improve conditions in these communities (Sail, 2010). While governments can perform community outreach, their capacity is limited (Fyffe, 2015). Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) work to fill the gaps left in state aid. While often smaller and more flexible than governments when working with more localized problems (“Non-governmental organization”, 2018), NGOs need to gather funding from governments or investors to keep projects in motion. Because of this, they need to appeal to investors and show that they are effective in solving problems in the community that they set out to solve. In order to do this, they need a system of evaluation to track progress made by programs and present indisputable evidence to donors that the programs are working and therefore deserve funding (Fowler, 1992). Outreach organizations can provide the evidence they need for funding by using specific metrics to evaluate their programs. These metrics are created based off of the sector of society that the project falls into as well as the goals of the project. They are tailored to find data that would be relevant to the progress and desired outcome of the project. An example metric for a project in the health sector of society is tracking how many people have reportedly quit smoking to provide data on a health education project with a goal of convincing people that smoking is harmful (“Healthy Community, Healthy People”, 2019).

Cantera, Puerto Rico is a neighborhood in San Juan which serves as a prime example of a community the government has failed to aid. This community struggles on a day-to-day basis with high poverty rates and poor educational programs. La Compañía para el Desarrollo Integral de la Península de Cantera (CDIPC) is a community outreach organization with the goal of helping with the community growth and development of Cantera. The company was founded in 1992 by the Puerto Rican government, but despite being founded by the government they need to come up with their own funding like an NGO. The CDIPC, however, lacks the metrics needed to evaluate their projects and therefore show that their projects are worth funding.

The goal of this project was to create a system of locating, organizing, and interpreting project data that can be recommended to the CDIPC to help them assess their outreach programs in Cantera and receive more funding. We achieved this goal through the following objectives: 1) Identify projects implemented by the CDIPC, 2) Locate data on projects from within the company and compile it into a centralized location, and 3) Assign metrics of analysis to each CDIPC project. To complete our objectives, we first conducted interviews with employees from the CDIPC to identify the organization’s current and past projects. We then reached out to project directors and requested any existing data or documentation. We then compiled the data and assigned metrics to it based on research we conducted. Finally, we created an evaluation system which we recommended for the CDIPC to use in the future.


We determined that CDIPC projects can be broken down into two broad categories: Human Development and Infrastructure and Physical Development. Falling under the Human Development category is a project called Casa Educativa. Within Casa Educativa is the Salud Futura program, a health program. Available data included student attendance and BMI values. Based on past studies, we determined student attendance and BMI values to be metrics (“Candidate Outcome Indicators: Health Risk Reduction”, n.d.; Freedman, 2009). If there are positive trends in the student’s attendance and an increase of students with normal BMI values, this indicates a successful health education program. Also, in Casa Educativa is the Educación project. Based on literature, if there is a positive correlation between student attendance and grades, then that is an indicator that the Educación program is helping increase students’ academic performance (“Candidate Outcome Indicators: Youth Tutoring”, n.d.). The AmeriCorps volunteers working in Casa Educativa are also evaluated, and metrics were assigned using available attendance sheets. Trends in attendance of AmeriCorps members can indicate positive or negative engagement and participation by the volunteers (“The Importance of Employee Attendance Reporting”, 2016). The Juegoteca project that VOCA runs within Casa Educativa already has a metric of analysis per the Department of Justice. They use evaluation forms to track changes in the children’s disruptive behaviors. If they see a decrease in disruptive behaviors, they know that is an indicator that the Juegoteca is doing an effective job at teaching students to interact without violence (Leff, 2001). Community Strengthening is the final project under Human Development, however, we were unable to obtain any information with which we could assign metrics. For the Infrastructure and Physical Development projects, we were only able to obtain data on Parque Victoria, and therefore only assigned metrics to this one specific development. The CDIPC can use the data on the length of time that residents have been living in Cantera as a metric. If the length of time people have been living there increases, this is an indicator that the company is successful in relocating residents of Cantera, and are keeping them satisfied in their homes (Weaver, 2015).

Conclusions and Recommendations

The results of this project led us to conclude that within Casa Educativa, Educación, Salud Futura, and the AmeriCorps employee records all have sufficient data that can be used as metrics to indicate the success of the programs. While they all have the necessary data for evaluating the success of the programs, we recommend that the CDIPC use a better method for displaying this data. Using graphs to visually show the trends in attendance rates, grades, and BMI values is an excellent way to identify changes in the data over time, and would be a way to document results for future employees. We also recommend that all graphs have legends so that people unfamiliar with the work being done can understand the data. The same goes for all the data collected, everything recorded should be clearly labeled with dates and legends, so that people assessing the data in the future will know exactly what has been done in the past, when it was done, and where they can access the information. Additionally, we recommend that when the CDIPC develops new projects, that they follow our method of assigning metrics, in which we identified the sector of society that the project falls into, the area affected, and the data available and then match that up with the goal in order to identify the best metrics used in literature.

We have found that our conclusions about the CDIPC not only apply to their company, but to community outreach organizations around the world (Callahan, 2019). Many programs struggle with keeping their information organized due to the high turnover of employees and the unexpected lifespan of the organizations (“How does turnover affect outcomes”, 2017; Edwards, 1994). Because of this, we recommend the CDIPC share our paper with other community outreach organizations in need. This way other programs will be able to look at our recommendations and methods for assessing projects and apply it to their own. This will save them the time and resources that it took for us to develop this assessment method.