What does data & measurement mean to a contemporary settlement house?

Can you quantify your impact at your neighborhood agency?

written by Bianca M. Butts, Director of Marketing & Outcomes

Can a Cleveland neighborhood non-profit historic settlement house accurately quantify and compellingly convey data on program execution, strategic outcomes outcomes, and articulate a collective impact plan with sustainable measurements?

This is the question that I seek to address in my role as the Director of Marketing and Outcomes at East End Neighborhood House.  My work is not just about publicity and flyers.  It is more about relationship building and enhancing agency visibility, neighborhood integration, and data collection. Suffice it to say, I wear many hats at East End.  I am a resident, an employee, and a neighborhood grassroots entrepreneur.  

Funders, partners, academics, residents, and donors want to know more and more about how non profit organizations are actually making an impact on clients served.  This information has always been pursued in the quest to hold organizations accountable and ensure good stewardship, but in today’s climate organizations are increasingly required to quantify in “data speak” the impact of their efforts and use of funds for programming.  This new climate is not unreasonable, except that this new curiosity on “quantifying impact and data collection ” has not yet been yet with the necessary support to do the work to explore means and tools to report such results.

What does data collection and quantifying impact mean to a settlement house today?

Settlement houses are not as common as our history reads.  Nationally settlement houses have appeared to die to the common eye, but in reality they are fewer in number but still impacting communities and families across the country.

East End Neighborhood House was founded as a settlement house to support Hungarian immigrants.  Today East End honors its settlement house roots and functions as a contemporary neighborhood agency still addressing the needs of families, seniors, children and those settling into Greater Cleveland communities.  We have intentionally created partnerships and explore opportunities to expand our ability to measure our effectiveness at meeting the goals of  providing culturally compassionate service delivery and positioning our clients to thrive.

Outcomes and data management is more than purchasing a fancy data system or measurement tool.  It is more about determining the metrics to measure and implementing engagement practices to connect constituents to data collection efforts and conveying the organizational value to partners within our organization.

What is East End Neighborhood House doing to address this current trend?

East End has researched data systems and collection methodologies for 2 years to identify best practices and capacity building opportunities to enhance our ability to quantify impact.  No we are focusing our efforts on coordinating and establishing effective FEEDBACK LOOPS to engage our client base, neighbors, and external partners.  The Listen for Good effort with the Fund for Shared Insight has been a wonderful source of support and capacity building to execute our data & outcomes work.  By collaborating with The Fund for Shared Insight, Saint Lukes Foundation, The United Black Fund, and other partners, we are learning processes and practices to build feedback loops and deepen our engagement efforts to better understand how we are meeting or not meeting client and community expectations.

Survey design, survey distribution, focus groups, engagement events, promotion, and reporting have been the processes and practices we have become proficient in executing in the past 18 months.  James Jones, EENH’s Community Ambassador has been instrumental in coordinating communication and event management in our Listen for Good journey.  His efforts combined with our marketing platforms of a weekly radio show, updated website, and leveraging of other technology have changed the way we plan and execute our data & outcomes work.

“In this phase of our work, we especially encouraged our partners to engage individuals from across their organization — and not limit the brainstorm to those in an evaluation-focused role. Individuals like program managers, finance staff, and others can challenge the way evaluators look at things and offer fresh perspectives.”
                                                                                  – Laura Hollod, 

How can someone support our current and future efforts?

Take our survey. Visit our website, follow us on social media, make a donation, attend an event, tell people about East End Neighborhood House and the work we do.  Come visit us (2749 Woodhill Rd Cleveland, OH 44104).  Call us (216-707-6032 Marketing department). Email us ( Stay connected and become an advocate for East End.  We have a few sayings at The House that keep us all keeping on….here are a few:

  • show up as your best self, and the rest is up to the Universe.
  • “If you stay ready you don’t have to get ready. I am ready.” -Ghost
  • it takes a village.
  • ABCD (always be collecting data)
  • who advocates for the Advocates? we need advocates for advocates. our parents, clients, and neighbors MUST become our advocates for East End Neighborhood House.
  • WE are YOUR neighborhood agency.
  • “we envision a greater Buckeye, Woodland Hills, Ward 6 village that enables all members to thrive. “

Whats next???

We are currently moving into Phase 2 of our Listen for Good effort and will begin focusing our work on our Senior demographic in June 2017.  We are preparing a survey for external partners (community members and non clients, and institutional investors, and anyone who wants to complete the survey).  We are actively and consistently seeking INDIVIDUAL donations to support our ability to continue to do this good work in our villages.  Donate on our website and support future fundraising efforts to enhance the sustainability of our neighborhood initiatives.



additional resources on this topic

Effective philanthropy article : In Building Capacity, put Grantees First 

blog post written by Bianca M. Butts, Director of Marketing & Outcomes @eastend216 on IG & Twitter
Copyright East End Neighborhood House, Inc 2017



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The Ubuntu Connection: A CEO’s Perspective

After seven years of compassionate commitment to a humanistic philosophy known as Ubuntu, I get asked all the time about it all the time.
What is it exactly?
Why is it so important to you?
And how do you and your team implement it into practice?

Ubuntu is a South African philosophy, amongst people who believe that their individual existence its dependent on that of others they share their living space with. Since the transition to democracy in South Africa with the Nelson Mandela presidency of 1994, the term has become more widely known outside of southern Africa, notably popularized to English language readers by Desmond Tutu (1999).
The African Proverb: “I am because we are therefore I am”, dives deep into encouraging to SEE that humanity is in fact not embedded in one person’s being alone but instead that “humanity is a quality that we owe to each other.”

The team at East End Neighborhood House, adopting this proverb as part of their mission, has been following the philosophy with the intent to connect to one another as advocates and social workers. We believe that we could expect that as social advocates, most of us are in the field to serve others in need because we believe all should have equal access to opportunity. But what we have also come to know in the study of Ubuntu, is that we can not serve others fairly and openly if we do not exhibit the same level of care for one another as colleagues and team mates in the work of social advocacy.

Here’s where OUR journey, has been most challenging and rewarding. An attitude usually displayed in work places of “punching in and punching out” could not be part of the culture of our work, if we were to become truly invested in practicing Ubuntu. We’ve had to see each other in the good and bad on behalf of the community. We’ve had to come to consensus decisions not for individual gain or even the majority but on behalf of the whole. We learned to be uncomfortable before we could get comfortable. We still get uncomfortable with change as any other human being, but now we know we can’t stay uncomfortable. We must see each other and keep it real with care. Elder wisdom best describes this space of learning as:

“Ubuntu is Compassion brought into colorful practice”.

In this journey taken with my staff I bring attention to perceptions because I believe these to be critical to understanding how we relate to each other. Perceptions come from experiences that we have as an individual, and those experiences begin to weave the way our individual stories unfold in this world. When I look at this definition of “colorful practice”, I think that the way we deliver compassion to one another will be determined in our practice of this work by the diversity of our individual stories, hence

Colorful = many stories unique &descriptive of our lives, that have the power to evolve together with others

I believe then that what Ubuntu is challenging us to do is to take those stories and merge them into one collective story of Us as humans on this earth sharing space, time and Purpose. Ubuntu makes us check in to our humanness, and our emotions to share these stories positively forward! Hence, our most critical work lies in our openness to share of ourselves honestly with purposeful compassion.

We have to do so consistently, understanding that sometimes because we are evolving, we will make mistakes. Since, 2011 here at East End Neighborhood House we have challenged each other to show up as the best self that we can be each day, because as such we are Purpose. Our purpose of being is the gift we give one another. Then if we ever feel “off purpose”, a human reality, we should be able to come in the presence of another who in that moment will SEE the shift and say I miss your gift of being. I am here for you we are in this together, how can I help? Have I been the cause of your shift? Because Ubuntu also teaches to forgive, after we’ve addressed discord. And if we do this everyday with each other as colleagues, when an individual comes to our door, a client, a neighbor, sometimes during a most difficult time in their life, we will be in our collective purpose of service, as our very best self and SEE them! Ubuntu encourages a collective story of Us because without each other we wouldn’t BE!

That’s my truth on why Ubuntu and why now!



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East End Neighborhood House Re-institutes the Chief of Operations Position and Selects Atunyese Herron for the Role

Atunyese east end neighborhood houseSince the leadership of current CEO, Zulma Zabala, the organization has been without a COO for the past five years. The Cleveland Foundation has granted capacity building funds to support the re-installation of the position. Zulma Zabala shares that the position is welcomed and part of East End Neighborhood House’s Collective Impact Plan that will enhance program delivery, visibility, fund development and accountability. East End Neighborhood House has been leading such collective impact plan now for the past year to strengthen the organization’s infrastructure and campus but most importantly to continue to effectively convene community members and stakeholder’s voice and action in the revitalization of the Greater Buckeye Neighborhood. Continue Reading →

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