Date of Award

Summer 2023

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Tarek Azzam

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Stewart Donaldson

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Wanda Casillas

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Michael Harnar

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2023 Cristina Elena-Tangonan Whyte


community inclusion, culturally responsive equitable evaluation, culturally responsive evaluation, evaluation, learning, philanthropy

Subject Categories



The importance of culture in the field of evaluation can be observed through the advancements that culturally responsive evaluation (CRE) and culturally responsive equitable evaluation (CREE) scholars have made in this arena over the past few decades. The literature, however, still lacks close examination of how CRE approaches are applied in institutions where cultural bias exists, such as philanthropy. Few researchers have examined the biases present in partnering with funders, white dominant norms, and the extent to which these elements facilitate or inhibit community inclusion in CRE. To address this gap, the present study utilized an exploratory sequential mixed methods design to: (1) better understand what methods were employed for CRE and CREE efforts within philanthropy, (2) identify how community is defined, (3) examine to what extent evaluators include communities served in the development and implementation of methods, (4) identify how much power or control communities served have over the process, (5) identify cultural norms and beliefs associated with community inclusion in philanthropy, and (6) explore what facilitators and barriers emerge for evaluators and foundation staff in their CRE or CREE practices. The sample consisted of evaluators and evaluation and learning staff currently working or partnering with foundations based in the United States for a total of 59 participants across the two phases of this study. Findings reveal that definitions of community varied based on the method, but grantees were the most represented group across methods. Interviews, evaluation advisory committees, evaluation frameworks, secondary data, focus groups, storytelling, and surveys were the most used methods. Across methods, participants indicated that stakeholders involved in CRE or CREE reported up to moderate levels of power or control in philanthropic evaluations. The study also offers evidence that the culture of community inclusion for philanthropic evaluation is rooted in white dominant norms and that pressure to comply with power hoarding practices, a type of white dominant norm that centers the funder’s evaluation interests, was a barrier to community inclusion. This study provides context about current shifts within culturally responsive evaluation and culturally responsive equitable evaluation when those at the intersection of philanthropy and evaluation are actively questioning both fields’ practices and redefining what evaluation, learning, and accountability mean. Future research and implications for practice within philanthropy are provided.



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