We are carrying out the ESF funded Tolkkupaja project for the City of Seinäjoki’s youth services during the period 2019–2021. The Tolkkupaja project offers activities for young people under the age of 30 living in Seinäjoki. The project is focused around youth work, with the TE Office, the city’s employment services, Kela, adult social work and educational institutions all participating. Tolkkupaja represents a customer-oriented, functional approach to work, where young people who have fallen between service paths and organisations are offered meaningful, functional, hands-on support.
The ongoing evaluation of the Tolkkupaja plan is an intrinsic part of the project process. The evaluation utilises MDI’s Proactive Effectiveness Model, in which project objectives, activities and resources are structured into impact pathways from the outset of operations or during the pre-impact evaluation phase of a project. When made in advance, the impact model helps project promoters from the outset to determine whether the resources, measures and goals of the action are proportionate and to identify the relevant metrics for each impact path. Thus, monitoring will also be able to use targets from the beginning. Indeed, the role of developmental evaluation is to accompany the project: it helps to identify, track and produce reliable project-related information and to identify whether the project is proceeding in the right direction.
The impact evaluation of the Tolkkupaja project identified a number of different impact paths. Not all of these impacts had been identified as significant at the beginning of the project. For example, bringing the functional themes of the Tolkkupaja project, such as environmental art and theatre, into the city events from inside the workshop walls, exerts a significant influence on young people. Alongside meaningful and visible activities, young people’s own skills, participation and control over their own lives is also strengthened. Tolkkupaja’s impact paths also include: improving skills and contacts with the partner organisations such that the challenges young people coming to Tolkkupaja currently face could be better addressed at an early stage.
The Tolkkupaja project started in spring 2019 and MDI’s evaluation will run alongside the project until 2021.