What are Programs?

Programs are included in the Network to Freedom for their educational or interpretive nature. Programs can be more diverse in nature and include, but are not limited to, tours, interpretive talks, exhibits, theater productions, living history presentations and school or public programs.

How are Programs Evaluated?

Programs are evaluated based on the following:

  1. Accuracy: source material specific to the story presented in the program on which interpretation and presentation of information are based must be delineated and should include primary materials—letters, diaries, autobiographies, official records—where possible.
  2. Professionalism: the Network to Freedom focuses on a professional approach to activities such as interpretation or curation that will indicate a high-quality presentation of the history of the Underground Railroad, rather than specifying staff credentials.
  3. Operation: all programs must be in operation and not solely in the planning stages. There must also be plans for the future.
  4. Applications must demonstrate that the program has a record of consultation with appropriate partners, and community or regional support. Consultation is a critical stage in the development of any interpretation program.
  5. A system must be established for the evaluation of the program's effectiveness. Insights gained from the evaluations should be used to refine the program in the future.

Filling Out the Application

In addition to the responses to each question, applications for programs must also include the following attachments:

  1. Letters from people consulted in the development of the interpretive program describing their input and participation in the process.
    1. These letters should not just be endorsements; they should describe the consultation process and content.
  2. An example of an audience feedback card or questionnaire or other audience feedback mechanism.
    1. Include information about audience feedback and surveys, but also how this information is incorporated in program revisions.
  3. A letter of consent for inclusion in the Network to Freedom from the owner or manager of the program.
  4. A DVD or video of the program or a sample of the program for evaluation purposes. See instructions for use policy.
    1. This is helpful for the review committee to evaluate the program. Bear in mind that any materials submitted become part of the application and the information is made available to the public upon acceptance of the application. You may want to include a sample, rather than the entire program.

The questions in the Network to Freedom application that apply to programs.
The "programs" portion of the Network to Freedom application showing P2 through P5.

Answering Program Specific Questions

The image above shows the first set of program specific questions on the application. The following are pointers for answering sections P2 through P5, highlighted in the image above.

P2. What do you want your audience to know about the Underground Railroad and how it's presented

Describe the program and what the participant will experience. Remember that most readers of the application will never have attended the program. Additionally, what is the Underground Railroad association and message that you want participants in the program to "come away with" or learn? Be descriptive in both of these answers. Lastly, describe how the message is conveyed to program participants; is it through drama, a lecture, visiting sites, viewing art, watching a PowerPoint presentation or film, discussion, etc.?

P3. Describe what advice you sought in developing your program

Consulting with others such as scholars, descendents and the local community is a crucial step in creating a program to ensure that multiple perspectives are considered and that the impacts of a tour or similar program are understood. In your answer, describe who was consulted in developing the program, how the consultation was conducted, the general content of correspondence, and important suggestions made for the program. For tours, it is particularly important that residents, local businesses, or officials that might be impacted by tour buses and groups be informed and have a chance to provide input on logistics.

P4. Identify historical sources of information and describe how they were used to develop program. Include a bibliography.

It is critical that programs be based on accurate and scholarly information. For example, while children's books are useful for programs targeted toward children, they are not a sufficient basis for program content. In the bibliography, describe how each of the sources listed were utilized in developing the program. Include standard publication information about each sources listed in the bibliography so that readers can identify the items included.

P5. Describe the educational objectives of the program, tour, or performance

What are the learning objectives and central points that program participants should learn? Additionally, if the program is targeted toward school children, include information on educational standards addressed by the program.

P8. Describe how the program is evaluated and how you use the results to improve the program

This question relates to the evaluations included as attachments. It is important that program participants have an opportunity to provide feedback and that this information is utilized to improve the program in the future. Specific to educational programs, how is the knowledge gained by the participants evaluated?

The second set of program specific questions in the Network to Freedom application.
The "programs" portion of the Network to Freedom application showing P9 through P12.

The image above shows the next portion of program specific questions on the application. The following are pointers for answering P9, highlighted in the image above.

P9. How long has the program existed and what are the future plans of the program

Programs must have been conducted at least once and there must be a plan for conducting the program in the future. For programs such as plays, performances, music or art, there must be an ongoing commitment to show or perform the program on a regular basis, even if it just annually. Lastly, artwork should be exhibited publicly or "travel," ideally with some sort of printed description and discussion of the meaning of the pieces.

Last updated: July 25, 2018