This sub-strategy from the Economic Justice Program explicitly outlines the purpose of MEL within the program, along with specific goals and guiding principles.
This resource is part of the MEL toolkit for grantmakers and grantees resource collection.
As a resource, it serves as an example for other grant-making and impact investing programs—both within OSF and beyond.
Authors and their affiliation
Andrea Azevedo, Jay Locke, Megan Colnar, Robin Varghese, and Stephanie Lucas - Economic Justice Program MEL Team, Open Society Foundations
Key features of the Economic Justice Program’s MERL sub-strategy
The Open Society Foundations’ Economic Justice Program (EJP) had been integrating monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) approaches into its work for many years. But in 2021, the program developed its first monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning sub‑strategy. The sub-strategy explicitly outlined the purpose for MEL within the program along with specific goals and guiding principles. It was designed to serve as a “North Star” or compass for the work of EJP’s MEL team, to ensure that it explored the questions that the program as a whole had for its economic justice work.
Due to leadership changes, the decision was made in late 2021 to centralize the Open Society Foundations’ cross-cutting global work, which meant the closure of individual thematic programs including EJP. Key elements of EJP’s designed strategy are set to be taken forward by a new Global Program under the rubric Equity, and the MERL sub-strategy is expected to continue informing this work. More broadly, it serves as an example for other grant-making and impact investing programs—both within OSF and beyond.
How have you used or intend on using this MERL sub-strategy?
The EJP MEL team intended to use this sub-strategy to guide and define all activities for their team over the next four years of work (2021–24). The strategy was developed in parallel to programmatic sub-strategies for the EJP portfolios and thus was designed to embed monitoring, evaluation, and learning across the program’s work with an eye toward a common vision and set of guiding principles.
Why would you recommend it to other people?
This resource can show donors what a portfolio MEL strategy might look like. Though the content is specific to the Economic Justice Program, it provides ideas and prompts for donors that are developing their MEL strategies. Donors may consider adopting a similar structure or might simply find it useful to see worked examples of things such as milestones or learning questions.
Azevedo, A., Locke, J., Colnar, M., Varghese, R. & Lucas, S. (2021). The Economic Justice Program’s monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning sub-strategy 2021–24. Retrieved from https://www.betterevaluation.org/tools-resources/economic-justice-programs-monitoring-evaluation-research-learning-sub-strategy-2021-24