Theory of Change - COAF
During the spring semmester we took a Theory of Change (ToC) course in which I worked with a colleague from Armenia developing a ToC for the NGO she used to worked for.
The Children of Armenia Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing educational opportunities and building infrastructure for children and families across rural Armenia. Their actions and interventions are aligned with four main pillars: education, health, child and family services, and economic development.
It was founded in 2004 in one village of the Armavir region and has expanded into more than 63 communities across 5 regions. As of 2022, the organization has brought resources to more than 107,239 people across 63 rural communities in Armenia.
The organization works on a community-driven approach, delivering high-impact and long-lasting sustainable initiatives such as formal and non-formal education, teacher training, infrastructure renovations, capacity building, and accessible medical care, among others.
Scoping the purpose
For stating the purpose of the Theory of Change we conducted a interview with the program manager of COAF. The objective of the interview was to understand the organization needs, assumptions about their change process and identify key priorities to narrow the scope of the first iteration of the ToC. We learned that one of their main current programs the “Smart Initiatives”. Which is a new model the organization is currently implementing in the Lori region of Armenia “designed to advance a generation across the rural world through education, that would benefit individuals the society and the enviroment”
The priority is to document the experience and replicate the model in other regions. Therefore, for the purposes of the Theory of Change would be to map and document the desired change of the SMART Initiatives programs so that the COAF organization can:
Plan a strategy revision of the current smart initiatives and how it is aligned with the outcomes and desired change.
Review the quality of the existing program periodically and evaluate the activities designed
Scaling up the Smart initiative program to other regions of rural Armenia.
The mission of the SMART Initiative is to provide resources to children and adults within COAF SMART Initiates to advance rural communities through innovation. To achieve that mission, the organization has created a variety of program activities and built infrastructure in the four main domains of change mentioned above; health, tourism, education, and economic development.
Programs and the scale of the organization allow observing the change in various levels of the community: from young children and adults to government officials and entrepreneurs. To illustrate how different beneficiaries are affected simultaneously by the projects implemented, added infrastructure, and new economic opportunities, we decided to represent the ToC with an actor-based change approach. And to illustrate how the different interactions across the initiatives create feedback loops in the system and how the desired long-term impact could be an emergence of those other interactions across time, we decided to represent the ToC inspired by a feedback systems approach.