America’s national parks provide more than opportunities for outdoor recreation and exploration. They also tell stories of our nation’s histories, support landscape and wildlife conservation, and provide community workforce opportunities. To ensure all people are able to explore and enjoy national parks, we must increase awareness of and expand access to National Park Service sites and programs. One step in doing so is to evaluate existing programs to make sure they are meeting their goals.

As an evaluation partner for the National Park Foundation (NPF), EDC is leading studies of five NPF grant programs and initiatives designed to increase access to national parks and inclusive practices in the National Park Service. EDC is also partnering with NPF staff to help build their capacity to engage in evaluation, make meaning of data, and use and share evaluation findings to fuel improvement and strategic planning.

Key Activities

In addition to ongoing evaluation capacity building, EDC’s team is evaluating the following programs and initiatives:

  • Open OutDoors for Kids: We are documenting the grant program’s reach, implementation, and outcomes and identifying areas for improvement and refinement.
  • ParkVentures: In our formative evaluation of the pilot program, we identified successes, challenges, and lessons learned. Currently, we are evaluating the second pilot of that grant program.
  • Inclusive Storytelling: We are examining how this grant program helps the National Park Service conduct research and share more inclusive narratives at park sites.
  • Mellon Humanities Fellowship: Over five years, we are identifying successes, challenges, and opportunities for improvement and documenting the program’s influence on the National Park Service and Fellows.
  • Service Corps: We are exploring grantees’ promising practices, surfacing their challenges, and brainstorming opportunities to improve the workforce development-focused grant program.


To date, our multi-program, multi-year partnership has achieved the following impacts:

  • For all five programs, the results from our studies are providing actionable insights and recommendations to help inform program planning, guide grant making, and identify areas to explore in future evaluation efforts.
  • Working closely and collaboratively with NPF staff, we have developed and presented a conceptual learning framework to help them reflect on the evaluation findings.
  • We have also provided ongoing coaching focused on evaluation design and use with collaborators and partners.

Learn More

National Park Foundation

National Park Service