A theory of change is a set of assumptions linking what Kudoz does (activities) with the results we set out to achieve (outcomes). What makes Kudoz distinct is how we get to change: we’re all about shaping the factors (determinants) that influence what people do, say, think and feel. We’ve set our sights on five big outcomes: improving mental health, increasing independence, enabling meaningful employment, unlocking lifelong learning, and reducing social stigma. To get to these outcomes, Kudoz brings people with and without disabilities together for one-to-one learning experiences designed to increase hopefulness, hard and soft skills, interests, networks, and social comfort with difference. Our theory of change isn’t just a fancy set of words on paper. We actively measure change—and are making progress on every one of the factors we’ve identified that propel forward great lives in welcoming communities.
Read our evaluation here.volume_up
Underpinning good mental health is a strong future orientation: a belief that tomorrow can be better than today. You also need a sense of competence and control: a belief that you have what it takes to drive the things that matter to you. That’s why Kudoz enables people to choose and book their own experiences: individuals can fill their calendars with events to look forward to, giving them a reason to leave their house and engage with community. Of course, having events in the calendar can also be scary, kicking-up anxieties and fears. So Kudoz also offers personal coaching, helping individuals work through some of the things holding them back.volume_up
Behind greater independence are both capabilities and opportunities. To be on your own, you need some hard and soft skills like navigating transit, communicating preferences, and making decisions. But, you also need safe spaces to try out those skills, gain feedback, and improve. Families shared with us their fear that once their kids graduated high school they would lose a safe space for maintaining skills. Kudoz provides individuals and families with more safe spaces for skill building. Experiences give people an opportunity to learn and practice decision-making, navigational, social, and communication skills.volume_up
Meaningful employment is work that feels interesting, purposeful, and fulfilling. Not any job meets the criteria. People talked a lot about wrong-fit jobs and workplaces, and getting stuck in deadend work without any ladder for development. Individuals and families wanted a broader range of possibilities than sweeping floors and stocking shelves. Achieving meaningful employment, then, takes shaping what individuals want and what employers offer. You can’t be fulfilled if you don’t know what interests you, or if you’ve never been exposed to different work environments. Exposure comes from having a diverse network. Jobs come from tapping into that diverse network: these days, 80% of jobs come from personal networks. Here’s where Kudoz helps. Experiences serve to broaden and deepen people’s interest base. Because these experiences are hosted by community members and businesses, they also serve to widen people’s social networks. Exposure goes both ways. By giving community members and businesses exposure to people with disabilities, experiences increase comfort with and appreciation of neurodiversity—and open up the space for new relationships and opportunities to emerge.volume_up
Core to Kudoz, then, is using one-to-one experiences to increase hopefulness, hard and soft skills, interests, networks, and social comfort with difference. And that means opening people up to use experiences to learn, grow, and challenge themselves. Learning happens when we’re motivated: when we want to try new things, when we see the benefit of trying new things, and when we’re afforded a chance to direct our own learning journeys.volume_up
Increasing exposure between people with and without disabilities also happens to be one of the best ways to reduce stigma. Stigma and discriminiation flourishes in the abstract: people fear what they do not know. For too long people with developmental disabilities were hidden in institutions, not visible to the community. When in the community, people with developmental disabilities are often supported in groups, accompanied by paid staff, which can feel intimidating. Kudoz breaks down the barriers to social interactions, making it easier for people with and without developmental disabilities to connect over shared passions and interests. Most experiences are one-on-one to facilitate relationship building and mutual understanding.volume_up
How is our theory playing out?
Change (or lack thereof) is something we actively measure. We collect stories of change from individuals, families and community members, and host pre/post Kudoz conversations about motivations, capabilities, and available opportunities. We also use our online platform to track additions to individuals' Kudoz profiles over time, including shifts in goals, interests, and personal narrative. All this data is telling us that our theory of change isn’t just a theory. We’re hitting every indicator!volume_up