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cipients of BWF funding. The board requested that staff develop a strategy for evaluating grants to individuals and, to a lesser extent, project-type grants. During this period, the board made its overall approach to evaluation explicit. This paper describes the overall evaluation strategy, the evaluation efforts that have been conducted, and how the results of these evaluations have affected BWF decisions about both program design and investment in their continued operation.


In determining what the role of evaluation should be in BWF decision making, the board identified the most important principles to incorporate in its evaluation process. These included the following:

  • Expert program review was to be conducted by advisory committees of senior scientists.

  • Advisory committee and staff review of program activities and grant recipients’ progress were to serve as BWF’s principal method of evaluation.

  • Members of the board also would serve as liaisons to each program, providing a vehicle for communication across levels of BWF. In addition to BWF staff program management, liaisons would help ensure that advisory committee activities (i.e., committee meetings in which grantees are selected and awardee progress is reviewed) would be consistent with program goals as set out by the board.

  • Annual awardee meetings were an important opportunity for both the board and the advisory committees to meet with the individuals whom BWF had funded and monitor how well grant recipients were doing.

  • Data-based outcome evaluations could be initiated to help inform the board of programs’ progress toward achieving their stated goals as appropriate. However, they were not to replace advisory committee and staff review as BWF’s principal method of evaluation.

These key elements are illustrated in Figure 1. The figure is pyramid shaped to depict the flow of information and activities upward toward board oversight. The base of the pyramid is comprised of awardees and programs—the principal target for discharging the BWF’s mission of supporting underfunded areas of science as well as the early career development of scientists. The contents of the pyramid correspond to activities or groups involved in the award process. For the three types of BWF participants (board members, board liaisons, and staff) and for awardees, the

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