Key Points

· This article reports on the accomplishments, challenges, and lessons learned in creating a new Department of Research and Evaluation at the California HealthCare Foundation.

· Different tools were developed to address each of three key areas: performance assessment, organizational learning, and program evaluation.

· These new processes and tools have been wellreceived by both staff and the board, and have become increasingly important as resources become more scarce, making understanding and maximizing the impact of investments even more critical.

· Fostering a culture of evaluative inquiry in a fast-paced, payout-oriented environment is a significant challenge – program staff often feels pressured to move on to development of the next project without pause.

· Careful attention to designing new efforts to ensure that they yield value from the perspective of participants can mitigate this challenge, as can clear endorsement from foundation leadership.

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