Grace Miller ’23 photographed at her home where she works remotely as a Learning and Evaluation Fellow for Project Hope on Aug. 4, 2022. (Photo by Michael Ivins/Holy Cross)
Soon after learning about Project Hope Boston’s mission to provide low-income women and children with opportunities that move them “beyond homelessness and poverty,” Grace Miler ’23 was drawn to the organization’s work. Being from the Greater Boston area, Miller was eager to get involved in the nonprofit’s efforts after learning more about the organization through Holy Cross Center for Career Development. This summer, she joined Project Hope as a learning and evaluation fellow and assisted with collecting, analyzing, disseminating and communicating outcome and impact data.
What are you working on?
Some of my responsibilities include coordinating requests for data and communicating with various Project Hope departments; translating data into easily digestible summaries for a variety of audiences; and assisting the learning and evaluation analysts with tasks as needed. I have also been able to work on projects somewhat outside of learning and evaluation, such as researching funding or grant opportunities, and aspects of human resources and assisting with compliance projects. I have also collaborated on additional projects with the other learning and evaluation intern.
What lessons have you learned from the experience?
This fellowship has helped me gain valuable experience in the nonprofit sector. I have learned about the importance data plays in shaping the daily operations of nonprofit organizations. Prior to this role, I would not have understood the critical nature of communicating data throughout a nonprofit organization. I have been able to gain valuable experience in the nonprofit sector. While I may or may not pursue work with nonprofits in the future, it has been great to learn about what goes into an organization’s goals and operations.
How are you making a difference?
I think I have been able to make a difference in a small, but meaningful, way. By working independently and with the learning and evaluation team, the organization as a whole is able to communicate impact and outcome data to its partners and stakeholders. Project Hope Boston’s theory of change says that it “collaborates with Roxbury and North Dorchester families to improve housing, education, health and economic mobility outcomes that lead to empowering leaders, a connected community and an overall enhanced quality of life for residents.” These important partnerships would not be possible without the work of the learning and evaluation team, which I am so grateful to be a part of this summer. There is a large amount of collaboration among departments in a mission-based nonprofit like Project Hope, and they are all working toward advancing equity and access.
What is the Holy Cross factor?
I am able to learn new content areas and technical skills quickly. Holy Cross prepared me to be able to step outside my comfort zone and take risks. While I am not taking risks as a learning and evaluation fellow, I am definitely outside of my comfort zone. The skills I have learned in my classes at Holy Cross have allowed me to do well in this role. Studying sociology and education has allowed me to become fairly confident in my qualitative analysis skills; however, I was nervous that I would struggle with the statistics and quantitative data aspect of the position. I was pleasantly surprised that my Holy Cross courses well-prepared me to work on projects related to impact data. I definitely believe that this experience will allow me to do well in my upcoming courses and extracurricular activities at the College this academic year.
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