Key Points

· Certification programs can provide a way for nonprofits to ensure adherence to generally accepted standards.

· The KH2GO Certification Pilot Project, supported by the Lumina Foundations, developed a set of standards for high-quality college access services, including standards for programming, operations, and organizational effectiveness.

· The project was implemented in two states with an evaluation designed to assess the quality of the assessment tools and the ease and rigor of implementation.

· The more clarity that applicants had about the goals of the process, potential benefits, and details about procedures, the more benefits they perceived.

· Many applicants felt that the self-assessment improved their work and could be more beneficial if certification resulted in additional prestige and funding.

· Lessons for funders include developing a clear scoring rubric, being thoughtful about who should lead the effort, and including partners in the development of the standards and assessment protocols.

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