Customer Spotlight: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

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Sangfroid Strategy is proud to work with Cleveland nonprofits that are making a positive impact in our community.  We’re excited to bring you a quarterly Customer Spotlight Series, showcasing the programs and successes of the organizations we work with and how Sangfroid Strategy has helped make an impact on their missions.

In this edition, we spoke with Mandy Smith, Director of Education at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, about the Rock Hall’s education-based mission, its powerful programming, and how the Rock Hall’s collaboration with Sangfroid Strategy helped them rethink how they were using their data to improve their programs.

The Education-Based Mission of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Whether you’re from Cleveland or not, you’ve likely heard of the Rock Hall.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a nonprofit organization with a mission to engage, teach and inspire through the power of rock and roll, and education lies at the very heart of the Rock Hall’s mission.  Even the annual Rock Hall inductees are celebrated not just for their musical talent, but also for having had a significant impact on the development, evolution, and preservation of rock and roll!  

The Rock Hall’s education department focuses on three main areas: Rock Hall EDU, a resource hub for teachers full of videos, infographics, lesson plans, and other exclusive content that teachers can use to incorporate rock and roll into their classrooms; the Rock Hall’s most interactive exhibit to date, The Garage, where wannabe musicians of all skill levels can learn how to play a rock and roll song on a variety of different instruments; and educational programming for toddlers through adult learners including the Toddler Rock and Rockin’ the Schools programs, and class partnerships with Cuyahoga Community College.

Toddler Rock and Rockin’ the Schools

Toddler Rock serves over 400 three-to-five year-old students each week!

Toddler Rock is an on-site program that uses popular music to prepare Cleveland’s underserved three- to five-year-old Head Start students to enter kindergarten by teaching important pre-k skills including music skills, motor skills, social and communication skills, pre literacy skills, and others.  Over 400 students visit the Rock Hall weekly to meet with a team of 12 music therapists.

Rockin’ the Schools serves over 16,000 K-12 students each year!

Rockin’ the Schools, the Rock Hall’s K-12 program, draws on the power of rock and roll to create interdisciplinary classes that align with academic standards in subjects including language arts, social studies, science, technology, and more.  Teachers can use the resources from Rock Hall EDU’s online database for content and lesson plans that complement Rockin’ the Schools’ (RTS) programming. RTS serves over 16,000 students each year, and like Toddler Rock, is a free program for schools within several Cleveland-area zip codes, and even offers free busing for schools within the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. 

These free programs are just a couple examples of how the Rock Hall is succeeding in breaking down barriers of education for both students and teachers in the Cleveland area.  When school budgets decrease, art and music classes and extracurricular activities are usually the first to be eliminated, so these free Rock Hall programs are particularly crucial to the well-rounded development of students in our community. 

Values First

The Rock Hall operates on a set of admirable core values, including Fans First, meaning their customers are at the forefront of everything they do, and employees adopt the “we get to be here” versus the “we have to be here” mentality; they are storytellers who believe that rock and roll has such an impact due to the stories that are attached to it – (What song was playing during your first kiss?); success as a team including collaboration and respect; and they empower innovation.  And not just technological innovation, either. Mandy describes the Rock Hall’s partnership with Sangfroid Strategy as living into that innovation value, thanks to the innovative ways Heather was able to put a new spin on the Rock Hall’s evaluation strategy that allowed them to make better decisions and draw more accurate conclusions from their data.

“While these values existed before our work with Heather, our work together has helped us embody them, making sure we’re considerate of our values when figuring out what to look at and how”, Mandy Smith, Director of Education, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

One of the core values of Sangfroid Strategy is building relationships with customers.  This means we tend to work with people for a long period of time instead of just moving from one gig to the next.  Our relationship with the Rock Hall has been no exception, and as our relationship has continued, the scope of our work together has also expanded.

Evaluating the Rock Hall’s Educational Programming

Since 2015, the Rock Hall has partnered with Sangfroid Strategy on an annual evaluation of their Rockin’ the Schools program, followed shortly after by the annual addition of the Toddler Rock evaluation in 2016.  While evaluations have been a valuable tool for the Rock Hall for many years in determining the reach of their program, their partnership with Sangfroid Strategy allowed them to to see the impact of their programming in new ways:

“The evaluations we completed with the last company were helpful, but only to a certain extent.  Heather started by looking at our existing evaluation data, and collected that same data during her first evaluation with us, but was able to look at it in new and interesting ways, allowing us to go so much deeper.  She also provided us with suggestions on how we could improve our evaluation methods and what we were evaluating. Since then, we’ve been making continuous improvements to our evaluation process. Heather did a wonderful job revamping our Rockin’ the Schools evaluation process, so much that we’re now doing the same thing with Toddler Rock.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how our evaluation strategy and relationship with Heather continue to evolve over the next few years.” – Mandy Smith, Director of Education, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Mandy describes Heather’s “holistic” approach as one of her favorite, and most helpful, ways Sangfroid Strategy contributed to the Rock Hall’s evaluation strategy.  Showing how the Rock Hall’s programs convey the connections between music, history, and society and measuring student understanding and learning gain in these areas rather than solely focus on statistics related to attendance and general demographics has helped the Rock Hall better communicate the educational impact of their programming, something their previous evaluation method did not allow for or consider.  

“Heather helped us pinpoint what we were doing holistically so we could take that and expand it into the museum.  We are an education mission based organization and education is central to everything we do, so improving how we can talk about our educational impact makes the cultural impact of the Rock Hall more obvious”, added Mandy.

For Arts and Education Nonprofits Looking For a Consulting Partner

For those nonprofits looking for a consulting partner for evaluation, Mandy recommends finding a consultant with a vast knowledge of your field and of best practices for evaluation, and someone who is invested in the work or mission of your organization.  

“Heather picks organizations to work with that she believes in; believes in their mission and believes in their impact….When working with numbers or statistics, people don’t always care about what you’re doing, or what those numbers mean, but Heather does.”

Sangfroid Strategy’s ability to contextualize results and impact within the broader arts and culture institutions community was the missing piece of the puzzle the Rock Hall needed.  We are proud to partner with the Rock Hall on their annual evaluation, and look forward to contributing to the continued success and progress of their impact within our community!
For more information on educational programming at the Rock Hall, or to plan your visit, visit them on the web at

Sangfroid Strategy works with organizations to help them learn from where they’ve been, define where they want to go, figure out how to get there, and bring their team on the journey with them! If you want to learn more about evaluation consulting, or other services from Sangfroid Strategy – contact our founder, Heather Lenz, at

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