Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

New Goals Make for New and Exciting Work

As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, the Center for Restorative Approaches has been primarily focused on schools in the past couple of years. This, in turn, means that our work has been primarily arranged on a semester basis. That being said the semester was winding down towards the end of the year. With that comes a planning retreat, where the members of the organization get together and have a large team meeting discussing new and improved SMART goals for the years to come.

This was the first time I have had the opportunity in my career experience to be truly involved as part of a team that makes executive decisions that will make an influential impact on the effectiveness of the organization. SMART goals are something that any organization/business big or small needs to develop. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. SMART goals, in general, can be very specific to the kind of work that VISTAs are meant to do; capacity building.Picture1  – Photo courtesy of firecider.com

Above you will find a short description of what each aspect of a SMART goal needs to address. The CRA’s SMART goals as expressed above, focused on expanding the capacity of the organization, targeting both expansion of partnerships as well as expanding our promotional material and aim to publish materials on news and media outlets. It is important as a non-profit to publish your findings, impacts, and tools on outlets to demonstrate the importance of your work and appeal to a greater market of clients.

Some of my personal SMART goals included compiling a Grant Library of grants that the CRA could apply for in the future including information such as contact information, application cycle dates, materials needed, funding targets, funding amount, and other information that might be useful to be able to save time on researching grants that are available.

Another SMART goal of mine is to create a directory of all of the publishing (op-eds & blogs) outlets with requirements/ contact information for us to send some write up to be published.

My most exciting SMART goal though is to create a Monitoring & Evaluation Program with a research component to it.


  • Photo courtesy of investment climate toolkits


With my focus on that, I have brainstormed some ways to measuring impact, specifically focusing on graduation rates for individual cases and wellness/behavioral changes. Being responsible for researching ways to measure impact has led me to participate in two CPS led Institutes one with Tom Chapel, the Chief Evaluation Officer for the CDC and one with the CPS Community Engaged Research Institute in affiliation with the Louisiana Public Health Institute.

These two series of workshops work as both a professional development opportunity for myself but also allow me to increase the capacity of the CRAs work and for that I am grateful the CRA has allowed me to participate in them!


About vcahen

Hello all! I have been blogging for a couple years now not really for the sake of the readers but for the sake of writing. I have been writing in diaries since I was a little girl...maybe Matilda influenced me as a child, who knows?... but in recent years I have discovered the art of blogging. While studying abroad I tried to write my blog pretty regularly but with limited wifi access in Ghana that wasn't too successful. I am currently doing a year of service with AmeriCorps VISTA and we are required to write a monthly blog. But instead of writing just for them I have decided to expand my blog writing to write reviews on restaurants throughout the world as well as describe in detail my traveling stories. I hope you enjoy and feel free to leave comments!! Carpe Diem, V


This entry was posted on February 18, 2016 by in VISTA Field Reports.


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