Key Points

· Participatory evaluation has set the standard for cooperation between program evaluators and stakeholders. Coalition evaluation, however, calls for more extensive collaboration with the community at large.

· Integrating principles of community based participatory research and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Strategic Prevention Framework, which guides much coalition work, into coalition evaluation has proved useful to foster community affiliations and support reciprocal relationship building. The resulting evaluation method, named community based participatory evaluation (CBPE), takes time, money, and skilled personnel but can lead to more accurate results and coalition sustainability.

· The CBPE method has proved essential in sustaining two substance abuse coalitions in and around Boston: Revere Cares (RC) and The Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition (CSAC).

· CBPE can help sustain coalitions by providing a degree of formality, assuring appropriate leadership and membership satisfaction, supporting conflict resolution, and strengthening relationships with external organizations. Broad-based participation allows coalition members greater access to create organizational and community change. Furthermore, it increases the capacity to collaborate because if one person quits the coalition, the affiliation with the organization may still be robust.

· Challenges to implementing CBPE include the cost, the amount of time required, and the need for a skilled evaluator who is organized, engaged, and knowledgeable about all aspects of coalition work.

Open Access