Civic Leadership Academy Evaluation

CLA model infographic

An evaluation of the first three years of the Civic Leadership Academy demonstrated how the interdisciplinary program benefits individuals, organizations, and Chicago’s civic network.

Created in 2014 by the University’s Office of Civic Engagement, in partnership with LISC Chicago, Civic Consulting Alliance, the City of Chicago and Cook County, CLA develops a pipeline of promising leaders to help local nonprofits and government agencies thrive. The program is now based at Harris Public Policy.

Evaluators from Outlier Research & Evaluation examined three areas of impact across three CLA cohorts: fellows’ leadership development and self-efficacy; benefit to fellows’ organizations; and development of networks that could strengthen Chicago’s civic infrastructure.

Key findings of the evaluation include:

  • Increased self-efficacy - Fellows became more confident in using data to make decisions. By the program’s end, 86 percent of Cohort 2 and 91 percent of Cohort 3 felt “mostly or completely confident” in their ability to use data and information to guide their decisions (compared to 68 percent and 59 percent before CLA, respectively). 
  • Increased intentionality - Fellows became more confident in developing effective action plans. By the program’s end, 96 percent of Cohort 2 and 91 percent of Cohort 3 felt “mostly or completely confident” in their ability to develop effective plans of action to accomplish organizational goals (compared to 59 percent and 77 percent before CLA, respectively).
  • Increased connections - By the end of the six-month program, fellows felt more confident making connections in their organizations and developed more external connections. 
  • Stronger civic infrastructure - By the program’s end, 86.7 percent of Cohort 2 made five or more introductions to their peers (compared to 20 percent pre-CLA). In Cohort 3, 86.7 percent made five or more peer introductions (compared to 13.4 percent pre-CLA). 

The evaluation was funded by JPMorgan Chase, which in September 2017 made a $40 million commitment to help drive inclusive growth in underserved Chicago neighborhoods.

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