Measurement, Evaluation, Research, and Learning (MERL)

Measurement, Evaluation, Research, and Learning (MERL) hero

IYF is committed to MERL to guarantee we are fulfilling our mission to connect young people with opportunities to transform their lives. Measurement and data ensure this is not just a lofty goal; when IYF works to help youth develop the leadership, technical, and life skills to earn a livelihood, we measure those skills, and assess those changes in livelihoods. When IYF works with local partners and systems to improve services for youth, we assess the outcomes on a systemic level.

Values-based MERL approaches

Our approach to MERL reflects IYF’s values—Inclusion, Integrity, Inspiration, Innovation, and Impact—and the American Evaluation Association’s Guiding Principles for the professional ethical conduct of evaluators, which is established in IYF’s MERL policy. We use participatory measurement methods, engaging young people and partners throughout the process, ensuring our projects address youth-defined problems within the local context. Evaluation questions and approaches are utilization-focused, designed for their usefulness to the intended users. Supporting our deeply held commitment to ensure broad social inclusion, we use equitable evaluation approaches and use data to improve programs and reveal and solve access inequities.

Collaborating and learning to improve results

Collaborating, learning, and adapting (CLA) principles and processes are woven into IYF’s work from project outset. At IYF, program measurement and evaluation reflect an institutional commitment to collect locally and globally relevant, high-quality data. We collaborate with partners to use data to evaluate and adapt programs, and to leave existing MERL systems stronger than when we arrived. IYF is a learning organization, with structures and processes to make learning a part of our—and by extension our local partners’—daily routine. This starts by making iterative learning routine at the project level—examining available data together with local stakeholders, reflecting on information, and using adaptive management to make project changes accordingly. This extends to the organizational level, gathering iterative learning across projects, examining learnings in relation to our strategic objectives and global trends, storing them in a virtual Knowledge Hub for easy-access, producing evidence briefs on priority topics and evolving technical thinking according to new findings.

MERL Learning Agenda

Graphic showing IYF's MERL Learning Agenda


Thought leadership through focused inquiry

IYF pursues an ambitious learning agenda, which outlines the high priority Positive Youth Development (PYD) questions of our time. IYF generates, focuses and compiles growing evidence on a variety of topics—such as the most effective approaches for building capacity and strengthening systems, and how to most effectively reach society’s most vulnerable—and supports partners to do the same. IYF also invests in external rigorous impact evaluations to understand the best ways to improve youth agency, increase economic opportunities and build youth-inclusive systems. IYF is dedicated to contributing to the evidence base, disseminating our learnings to the broader international development and research community.

Selected MERL Research and Resources

Tools and Resources:

Evidence briefs:

Impact evaluations:

Outcome harvests:

Blog posts:

To discuss MERL at IYF or to inquire about MERL partnerships, please contact Linda Fogarty, Director of Measurement, Evaluation, Research and Learning.