Evaluation of the Start Here programme funded by the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland.

About the Rank Foundation
The Rank Foundation is a philanthropic organisation and the charitable legacy of Lord Rank (1888-1972). Our aim is to improve the lives of people and their communities, across the UK. We look to do this by encouraging and developing leadership and promoting enterprise and innovation. The Foundation operates a model of engaged philanthropy, combining intellectual, social and financial capital. Our experience suggests that by promoting stronger partnerships and concentrating funding, knowledge and expertise in a very focused way, the Foundation can maximise impact across the UK.

About Start Here
In January 2022, the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland launched a new £20m Employment and Skills Initiative designed to support job creation and skills development in the Arts, Voluntary and Community, Sports, Heritage and Creative Industries sectors.

The Rank Foundation is one of four key delivery partners and is providing support to the Sports and Voluntary and Community sectors through the Start Here programme. 100 organisations (75 VCSE and 25 Sports) have received funding for a new entry level post for three years. New post holders have access to a place on a facilitated Action Learning Set and an annual conference. Organisations are also able to apply for an upskilling grant of up to £6,000 to support their wider organisation.

Overall, the programme seeks to aid recovery, resilience and sustainability in Sports and VCSE organisations by addressing deficits in employment and progression opportunities which arose, or have been exacerbated by, the Covid-19 pandemic and the current cost-of-living crisis. The focus is on the individual and helping them to reach their potential by creating supportive networks and providing opportunities for development, which will at the same time will add value to their organisation and collectively strengthen each sector.

About the invitation to tender
The Rank Foundation is looking to appoint an evaluation partner to evaluate the Start Here programme from October 2023 for a minimum of two years. A key requirement is that the evaluator has a good understanding of the challenges facing VCSE and/or sports organisations based in NI.

Contact Details

Name: Kristine Hill
Role: Programme Manager
Email: Kristine.hill@rankfoundation.com

Invitation to tender released: 14th July 2023
Proposal and quote by email due: 18th August 2023
Shortlist presentations (may be in person or via Teams): 24th August 2023
Contract start date: 1st October 2023

Evaluation objectives
As the Start Here programme moves into its second year, we wish to appoint an evaluator who will provide external, objective quantitative analysis and synthesis of the programme, to complement the more qualitative evaluation work being undertaken in-house.

The evaluation will aim to:
– Capture key lessons learned in relation to programme delivery that will help to inform future programmes of this kind in Northern Ireland, and elsewhere.
– Assess the extent to which the programme has been successful in achieving its aims and ambitions, specifically:
– Measure success against programme outcomes.
– Measure the impact of the programme on individual postholders.
– Measure the impact of the programme on the organisations hosting the postholders.
– Measure the collective impact for the Sports and VCSE sectors in Northern Ireland.
– Measure the impact on the Northern Ireland economy.

The Outcomes Based Accountability Report Card for the programme asks the following questions:
– Number of applicants who received support reporting that the funding received will enable them to emerge stronger, more sustainable.
– Number of applicants that have been incentivised to remain and develop their career path in the sector.
– Number of applicants who received support reporting that the funding will deliver enhanced career prospects for individuals.

We are also interested in options for longitudinal measurement of impact, after the end of the end of the funded programme. We welcome suggestions on how this might be achieved.

Lastly, the evaluator will work in partnership with the Programme Manager to support the sharing of learning on an ongoing basis over the course of the programme.

Evaluation work to date
We have recently developed a Theory of Change for the programme – see attached. We are, also, in the process of collecting and collating the following data:
– A mid-year progress update from each organisation covering the first six months.
– Equalities data (post holders).
– Feedback relating to networking/learning opportunities.
– Feedback relating to Action Learning (from participants and facilitators).
– Questionnaires for post holders and organisations to be sent at regular intervals (currently in development).

We expect the contract to start in October 2023 (beginning of year 2 of the programme).

Evaluation outputs
Initial report: March 2024
This report will be used to inform the 2nd year report to the Department for Communities.
Final report: December 2025
This report will be shared with the Department for Communities, Rank Foundation Trustees and, possibly, more widely (to be discussed).
Follow up report: December 2026
If proposed, this report would focus on longitudinal study of the postholders and their organisations.

We welcome a creative approach to this evaluation – your proposed methodology should be set out in your proposal and include your approach to evidence gathering, data analysis and its presentation and how the evaluation and the learning from the project could be shared.

The maximum budget for this piece of work is £45,000 plus VAT over the remaining two years of the programme, and beyond (if longer term evaluation is agreed).

How to respond to this tender
To respond to this brief, please email your proposal to Kristine.hill@rankfoundation.com by 5pm on Friday 18th August. The proposal should cover the following points:

– Your understanding of the brief.
– Your proposed methodology, including your approach to research ethics and data protection.
– An outline project plan including key deliverables.
– An outline budget.
– Your relevant experience in similar projects, including examples of previous work.

We are happy to speak with potential providers to discuss the evaluation project in more detail. Please contact Kristine at the address above if you have any questions or if you’d like to set up a brief meeting or phonecall.

Please find appendix attached