Background to the Development of the Positive Space Assessment Tool

The coordinator of the OCASI Positive Spaces Initiative was approached by the coordinator of OrgWise (the OCASI Organizational Standards Initiative) in June 2013 with a request to partner on an organizational mentorship initiative (currently under development). Specifically, agencies with strong Positive Spaces could mentor agencies who were seeking to develop and strengthen their Positive Spaces. OrgWise had already been operating such a mentorship program in regard to other organizational standards, using OCASI's OrgWise Assessment Tool to guide the process. While planning the Positive Space mentorship program, OCASI quickly realized that in order to identify target areas for improvement, appropriately match mentors and partners, and establish clear directions for the mentorship process, some kind of preliminary assessment would be necessary. Thus, the Positive Space Assessment Tool was born - and it became immediately apparent that the Tool could be very useful to agencies in developing their Positive Spaces whether or not they were interested in the mentorship program. For this reason, Tips are included throughout the Tool that explain the background of various concepts, and connect respondents to relevant resources.

The development of the Positive Space Assessment Tool began with a brainstorming session with the PSI Advisory Committee on June 28, 2013 in which key areas and standards were identified and format discussed. Over the coming months, the Tool went through many drafts and transformations. Advisory Committee member Yasser Ismail, an evaluation consultant with Cathexis Consulting, contributed his particular skills and expertise in guiding the process from an assessment framework, while all Advisory Committee members reviewed the content and provided feedback on each draft. The OCASI tech team designed the user interface, and the Tool was placed online.

The pilot phase began in May 2014 with 15 agencies (representing all 7 OCASI regions) testing the Tool and providing feedback. Revisions will be incorporated based on the feedback of the pilot respondents.