Girls Group Mentoring Toolkit

This Girls Group Mentoring Toolkit provides the tools, resources and support to create, implement, deliver and evaluate a quality group mentoring program for girls, ages 9-13, in your community. The Toolkit is intended to be used in a range of communities, and can be adapted to the unique values, needs, strengths and challenges that each community encompasses.

Planning Your Program

Theory of Change

Why should I invest the time in creating a theory of change?

Although the process can take time and resources, developing a theory of change will allow you to design a program that is effective, efficient and evaluated. By thinking through your goals and objectives in advance, you can design program processes and features that will have the best impact possible. This can also be an appealing resource when approaching partners or engaging prospective funders. “Stakeholders value theories of change as part of the program planning and evaluation because they create commonly understood vision of the long-term goals, how they will be reached, and what will be used to measure progress along the way” (Centre for Theory of Change, 2013). 

An important part of planning your program is to illustrate your theory of change. A theory of change is a specific and measurable description of a social change initiative that forms the basis for strategic planning, ongoing decision-making and evaluation (Centre for Theory of Change, 2013).

A theory of change identifies:

  • What kind of impact you want to have
  • Who you will impact/change
  • How you plan to achieve this change
  • How you will know if you were successful

A theory of change is developed to help you think through what change you wish to affect through your program and why. It is best developed as a collaborative activity with key program stakeholders, as it is your roadmap for change.

Thinking through your theory of change will help guide how you organize different aspects of your program and inform your actions. Theories of Change are fluid documents, and as your program evolves over time, it will be useful to reconsider and reflect upon what has been articulated and adjust it as necessary. Some Theory of Change examples to consider:

IF girls feel connected to other girls through mentoring opportunities and are supported,

THEN they will become more actively involved as leaders in their communities or cultural groups. They will experience greater success and an enhanced sense of belonging. They will have a strong sense of identity, along with greater confidence and enhanced critical thinking skills.

IF girls take part in a girls program,

THEN their critical thinking skills and feelings of connectedness are strengthened and positively impacted.

To create your own theory of change, keeping the above considerations in mind, complete the following statement:

IF
THEN

“The truth is that getting from activities to outcomes is a lot more complicated than we often want it to be. Which is why programs really should develop (and continually revise) a rock-solid theory of change. A theory of change model articulates all of the assumptions that go into your thinking about why your program works. It forces you to work backwards from your long-term BIG outcomes to explain all of the preconditions that need to be met to move participants toward those outcomes.”

 - Garringer (2014)


Contact: mentoringgirls(at)canadianwomen.org