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Evaluating Impact: Pre-K for PA Campaign, Learning & Insights From Eight Years of a State-Based Advocacy Initiative

In 2014, TCC Group was funded by the William Penn Foundation to serve as an embedded evaluator to the Pre-K for PA Campaign, an advocacy campaign comprised of members throughout Pennsylvania working together to increase access to, and the affordability of, high-quality pre-kindergarten programs in the state.

While we observed the Campaign’s internal dynamics at length, we also conducted rigorous methods focused on understanding progress and impact. The Pre-K for PA Campaign began its advocacy work in a year with such state gridlock that the newly elected governor Tom Wolf was not able to pass a state budget on time for the first time since 2009. From there, political winds shifted back and forth in the politically divided state, impacting the ways in which the Campaign advanced its advocacy goals, the ways in which it and the William Penn Foundation assessed the feasibility of goals, and how we thought about the best ways to collect data on its impact.

This report builds on eight years of partnership with this advocacy campaign. It aims to answer three big questions:

  1. What effect did the Campaign have on funding levels?
  2. What are effective advocacy strategies in polarized and changing environments?
  3. What can sustained financial support allow advocacy campaigns to achieve?

We hope this report will be helpful and encouraging to all of those involved in advocacy efforts, especially those working to enact policy and systems-change in polarized states and funders working to provide advocates with the long-term and robust funding they need to make a difference.

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