SPEC Associates has a client base comprised of nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies, educational institutions and systems, and foundations.

Higher Education

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    SPEC is doing developmental evaluation work for The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Postsecondary Success Institutional Partnership portfolio that supports efforts at institutions that aimed at increasing graduation rates and reducing education equity gaps. We help foundation staff to pause and reflect as they build this new strategy that supports higher education institutions as they resolutely focus on student success. SPEC’s work with the Foundation includes conducting rapid assessment case studies of successful institutions, synthesizing and analyzing bodies of higher education success-related work, facilitating reflection activities, preparing internal and public reports, and producing evaluation memos.

  • Lumina Foundation

    For the past eight years, SPEC Associates has been working for Lumina Foundation evaluating its grant making aimed at improving the productivity of higher education through statewide policy and program change. SPEC followed the implementation grants and related investments that Lumina made in seven states: Arizona, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas. SPEC engaged national partners and members of each state’s grant implementation team in several ways: regular state-specific team conference calls, hosting and facilitating learning activities at two national productivity evaluation meetings, participating as thought partners with other national intermediary organizations, and conducting a series of site visits and interviews with key stakeholders in each of the seven states. SPEC produced a series of evaluation memos, interim evaluation reports, and final reports for each state and across the seven states.

  • Wayne State University

    SPEC is evaluating three programs at Wayne State University aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented students who pursue careers in biomedical science and research:

    • U.S. Department of Education-funded McNair Scholars Program
    • National Institutes of Health-funded Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity
    • National Institutes of Health-funded Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training Program

    SPEC works with an Evaluation Advisory Group for each program to develop and make meaning of the evaluation results. SPEC conducts surveys, interviews, and focus groups with students and/or faculty, provides real-time feedback memos, and prepares annual reports to meet funder requirements.

  • REBUILDetroit

    SPEC is evaluating the National Institute of Health-funded REBUILDetroit, a collaboration of four Detroit universities aimed at increasing the pipeline of underrepresented students in scientific research positions. The four institutions are: University of Detroit Mercy, Wayne State University, Marygrove College and Wayne County Community College District. SPEC’s evaluation work includes sitting on advisory bodies, surveying and interviewing students and faculty, producing reports meeting funding specifications, securing and maintaining Institutional Review Board approvals, and facilitating reflection activities related to evaluation findings.

Online Learning Communities

  • LaGuardia Community College

    SPEC evaluated LaGuardia Community College’s innovative online program, Global Skills for Community Colleges, which supports professional development and mentorship for faculty who provide remedial education. SPEC worked with a college-created Evaluation Advisory Group to conceptualize, create, pilot test and utilize a rubric for assessing the level of faculty engagement with this online professional development program.

  • Foundation Center

    SPEC provided a six-month implementation evaluation of the Foundation Center’s new website WASHfunders.org that engages and connects funders, program directors and advocates around issues related to improving water, sanitation and hygiene resources worldwide. SPEC worked with an Evaluation Advisory Group, conducted in-depth social media analytics, and interviewed high-end Website WASHfunders.org users. We created visualizations of the evaluation findings, facilitated sense making sessions to identify recommendations, and produced a final report.

Youth Development Organizations

  • Girl Scouts of the USA

    SPEC conducted evaluations for Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) for more than 15 years on a variety programs all aimed at empowering girls and improving communities. Included in this body of work is GSUSA’s first national outcome study, Girls, Families and Communities Grow through Girl Scouting which involved surveys with more than 2,500 Girl Scouts, 2,200 comparison group girls, 2,000 parents, 3,000 adult leaders and 1,000 teacher ratings from 182 elementary, middle and high school classes across 19 states. SPEC also evaluated GSUSA’s pre-school GirlSports program, as well as a series of federal grants that Girl Scouts of the USA received from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Education all aimed at growing leadership skills among Girl Scouts and/or their adult leaders. SPEC’s evaluation work included case studies of successful Girl Scout council programs; surveys of girls, parents, adult volunteers and teachers; and focus groups across the country with Girl Scout leaders.

  • Macomb Intermediate School District

    SPEC is the evaluator for MISD’s Ready Children Ready Communities Social Innovation Fund initiative to improve literacy outcomes for children living in Macomb and Wayne counties through community outreach, developmental and mental health screening, home visitation, and play and learn groups being provided by Macomb Family Services, Leaps and Bounds Family Center and MISD. SPEC’s evaluation work includes interfacing with the United Way of Southeast Michigan to assure that the evaluation is implemented according to prescribed standards of the Corporation for National Community Services and approved by an Institutional Review Board. SPEC also worked with an Evaluation Advisory Committee and line staff to design outcome measures and data collection systems, analyze and visualize evaluation results, and facilitate learning for process improvement.


  • Michigan Area Agency on Aging 1-B

    SPEC has been working with AAA 1-B for more than 15 years, beginning with the co-creation of the U.S. Administration on Aging-funded Performance and Quality System for monitoring the quality of five community-based care services: personal care, adult day care, home delivered meals, chore services and care management. Since then, SPEC worked on a variety of other evaluations studying the impact of telephonic care management on reducing hospital readmissions, creating a system for measuring eight major outcomes of community care management, and conducting annual consumer satisfaction surveys. SPEC’s work involved statistical analysis of existing client tracking databases, telephone surveys and focus groups with consumers and caregivers, data visualization, facilitation of learning from evaluation findings, and production of evaluation reports.

  • Comprehensive Index of Elder Abuse and Elder Abuse Screening Test

    SPEC’s founder, Melanie Hwalek, co-created the Sengstock-Hwalek Comprehensive Index of Elder Abuse and the Hwalek-Sengstock Elder Abuse Screening Test (HS-EAST) which were seminal in the field of adult protective services and continue to be used to this day worldwide. To our knowledge, the Comprehensive Index remains the only full clinical assessment of six types of elder abuse and neglect: physical abuse, physical neglect, psychological abuse, psychological neglect, financial exploitation and violation of personal rights. The HS-EAST continues to be used by researchers, in health care settings and in social service organizations in the U.S. as well as in Turkey, Indonesia, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Italy, Netherlands, and India.