Oak Foundation Partnership

The Oak Foundation commits it’s resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged.  With offices in Europe, Africa, India and North America, Oak Foundation makes grants to organisations in approximately 40 countries worldwide.

Oak have funded I-SPHERE under the Foundation’s Housing and Homelessness programme with the aim of strengthening the evidence base of what works in the field.

Through our partnership we:

  •  support Oak funded projects to design and implement effective research, monitoring and evaluation. 
  • run an internship programme to support the development of early career researchers.  

Oak Projects support

I-SPHERE provide 1-2-1 bespoke support to around 20 Oak funded projects per year to help them develop evaluation and research.  This informs projects to improve their own impact and reporting and brings wider learning to the sector.

Oak recently asked for feedback from two of the funded projects we supported:

  • Pine Street Inn provides support services and shelter to single homeless people in Boston, Massachusetts. Pine Street Inn worked with I-SPHERE to develop a Request for Proposal (similar to an Invitation to Tender in the UK), for an evaluation of a ‘Rapid Rehousing’ programme.After the draft Request for Proposal was developed, they discussed the research framework together. Larry Seamans, Pine Street Inn’s chief programme officer, commented: “We had a wide-ranging conversation, shared research ideas and methodologies and gained a more global perspective. It was extremely useful to have a thought partner in this process.”
  • The Public Law Project is a charity in the UK that supports people whose access to justice is restricted by poverty or disadvantage. Public Law Project and I-SPHERE met to grapple with the conceptual difficulties of developing meaningful evaluation in their field, particularly for legal interventions such as strategic litigation. Jo Hickman, Public Law Project director said that the support “Helped us think about how we might focus on genuine impact, and avoid the trap of Key Performance Indicators that distort behaviour or become an end in themselves. We adopted their suggested approach to test our theory of change by looking at our work thematically, rather than by department or activities. Also, it helped us think about how we might use the same data for different purposes – internal management, funder reporting, press and publicity etc.” 

In October 2018 we are running the first learning seminar for all Oak projects to share experiences and support them in developing excellent evaluation and research.

Oak Internship programme

The Oak Homelessness internship programme offers a chance for early career researchers to undertake quality independent research supported by the I-SPHERE team.

Our first intern, Lynne McMordie, published research on Chronic Homelessness and Temporary Accommodation Placement in Belfast in July 2018.  The research is already informing practice in Northern Ireland.

Lynne told us what she personally gained from the internship:

“The internship has really developed my knowledge of homelessness and increased my understanding of social research.  It has brought together my work experience in the homeless sector and my academic achievements, and has given me a platform to potentially progress towards a PhD.  Perhaps most importantly, it has given me the space, time and resources to explore an aspect of homelessness which I have felt passionately about for some time.” – Lynne McMordie, Oak Homelessness Intern

Our second intern, Megan Park, is working on a research project reviewing Discretionary Housing Payments in England.

For further information on the Oak Foundation partnership contact Jill