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Policymakers talk about solutions, but which ones really work? Join Therese Leung as she talks with MDRC researchers about the best evidence available on education and social programs that serve low-income peop

Policymakers talk about solutions, but which ones really work? Join Therese Leung as she talks with MDRC researchers about the best evidence available on education and social programs that serve low-income peop
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Policymakers talk about solutions, but which ones really work? Join Therese Leung as she talks with MDRC researchers about the best evidence available on education and social programs that serve low-income peop




Using Data-Driven Strategies for Program Improvement

Government agencies work hard to help the people they serve, whether it’s helping individuals find jobs or improve family well-being. But despite best efforts, some participants still don’t succeed. What are some ways government agencies can improve services and ensure participants remain on the right track? In this episode, Kate Gualtieri, MDRC’s Director of Strategy, talks with MDRC Senior Fellow Melissa Wavelet, the former director of the Office of Performance and Strategic Outcomes in...


Replicating CUNY’s ASAP Model in Ohio: Interview with Dr. Marcia Ballinger

Nationwide, only 25 percent of full-time, first-time students at community colleges earn a degree within three years. To increase graduation rates for low-income community college students, the City University of New York (CUNY) launched Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) — a comprehensive program that provides wrap-around support services to students, including one-on-one advising, help covering transportation and book expenses, and tutoring. MDRC’s evaluation of the CUNY ASAP...


Can Aligned Instruction Prevent Pre-K Fadeout?

High-quality preschool education can have substantial positive impacts on children’s early learning and development, as well as longer-term outcomes like graduating from high school and attending college. But the boost in skills young children experience can fade out as they move on to kindergarten and elementary school, exacerbating the achievement gap between children from more- versus less-advantaged backgrounds. This fadeout pattern has drawn greater attention to students’ experiences...


The Story of a Practitioner-Researcher Partnership: Studying the Effects of the Grameen America Program

Can giving small loans to low-income people to start or grow their businesses help lift them out of poverty and improve overall well-being? That’s the idea behind microlending – a promising approach implemented by institutions worldwide. But only limited rigorous evidence is available on the model’s effectiveness, especially in advanced economies. MDRC is evaluating Grameen America, a program that provides small loans to groups of low-income women in the U.S. using a model designed by Nobel...


Steps to Upward Mobility: Lessons from Three Youth Employment Programs

One out of every 10 young people between the ages of 16 and 24 is neither working nor in school. These “disconnected” young people face an uphill battle finding work and are at risk of economic hardship well into adulthood. Although there are many programs that aim to reconnect young people to education and employment, findings from evaluations of these programs have been mixed. The evidence base has grown substantially in the past several months, though, as studies of three pro­grams —...


How to Improve College Placement Using Multiple Measures

Students who are placed into developmental (remedial) courses often fail to complete them, and many colleges and states are therefore interested in reforming developmental education. But what if students are not accurately placed into developmental courses in the first place? What if some of the students placed into developmental courses could have succeeded in college-level courses? Research suggests that standardized tests — the traditional method for placing students — actually does...


After the Hurricane: Youth Employment in Puerto Rico

How should policymakers address the long-standing youth unemployment problem in Puerto Rico, which only worsened in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria? With support from the W. T. Grant Foundation, MDRC partnered with Instituto del Desarrollo de la Juventud, or the Youth Development Institute, to develop recommendations that can create pathways into the workforce for young people and that are supported by evidence-based and promising practices relevant to the current situation in Puerto...


CareerWise Colorado: A Modern Youth Apprenticeship Model

Career and technical education programs have taken on many different forms, but one that has been gaining in popularity is apprenticeships. Join Katie Beal as she talks to Noel Ginsberg, CEO of CareerWise Colorado, and Gretchen Morgan, former president of CareerWise Colorado, about the initiative that seeks to enlist hundreds of employers from many sectors to employ thousands of high school students in the nation’s first large-scale youth apprenticeship program. MDRC is currently working...


Career and Technical Education: Past, Present, and Future

This summer Congress passed the long-awaited reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which governs the federal investment in career and technical education (CTE). But what do CTE programs actually do? And how have they evolved over time? Join Katie Beal as she talks to Mary Visher, a senior research associate at MDRC, about CTE programs — including their development and challenges. They also discuss MDRC’s two-decade history of constructing and evaluating...


Improving Children’s Math Skills

Early math ability is one of the best predictors of children’s math and reading skills into late elementary school. Children with stronger math proficiency in elementary school are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. But most early childhood programs don’t focus on math instruction. What kinds of math programs can improve children’s early math abilities? And can they lead to positive impacts for other longer-term outcomes? The Making Pre-K Count and High 5s...


Predicting Risk in Social Service and Education Programs

Social service and education programs aim to help the people they serve achieve positive outcomes (for example, completing a degree or getting a job). But some participants still don’t succeed. Could predicting who is more at risk of not meeting important milestones allow programs to intervene with supports for those who most need them? Predictive analytics is a tool that can help programs use existing data to make predictions of risk for their clients. Program staff can identify...


Enhancing College Promise Programs to Support Student Success

College Promise is a widespread college access movement in the United States, with more than 200 programs across the country. Although these programs help students access college by covering the cost of tuition and fees, they do not typically address barriers to student success. The Detroit Promise Path, administered by the Detroit Regional Chamber, is a program that allows high school graduates to attend local colleges tuition-free and provides evidence-based support strategies to students...


Lessons on Making School Choice Easier for Families

School choice can be an arduous process and can prove especially challenging for low-income or recent-immigrant families. Offering supports, simplifying the process, and personalizing information, among other things, can help families navigate decisions about school choice. In this podcast, MDRC researcher Barbara Condliffe considers how lessons from other policy arenas can help improve school choice process.


Sector-Focused Training That Meets the Needs of Job Seekers and Employers

Can working closely with employers make job training programs more effective? Although many training programs exist, low-income individuals often cannot afford them, do not complete them, or do not obtain a marketable credential. At the same time, many employers claim that they cannot easily find people with the right occupational skills to meet their needs.


Using “Nudges” to Improve Social Programs

Can small changes based on the insights of behavioral science improve the effectiveness of social programs? Research has shown that small changes in the environment can facilitate behaviors and decisions that are in people’s best interest. For example, a change in the way messages or requirements are worded may increase the likelihood that program participants make positive choices. However, there has been relatively little exploration of the potential application of this science to...


Gordon Berlin Interviewed About the Role of Research Evidence in Shaping Social Policy

In April, MDRC President Gordon Berlin was interviewed by Denver Frederick, host of the “Business of Giving” radio show in New York City, about the role of rigorous research evidence in informing how government and philanthropy invest in education and social programs. The podcast was also featured on the Chronicle of Philanthropy website. Berlin describes MDRC’s experience evaluating existing programs and developing demonstrations of new interventions. He highlights a number of current...


Keeping Girls out of the Justice System

Girls are making up a larger share of the juvenile justice system than ever before. One program that’s trying to address this issue is the PACE Center for Girls in Florida.


Transitioning to Adulthood

How do young adults fare after they age out of the foster care or juvenile justice systems? And are there services that can help these young people make a successful transition to adulthood? With funding from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, MDRC just released results from an evaluation of the Transitional Living Program (now called YVLifeSet) run by the organization Youth Villages. The program provides intensive, individualized, and clinically focused case management, support, and...


Tackling Youth Unemployment

What's worked to help disadvantaged youth get jobs? And how can we get more employers actively engaged in this issue? Therese Leung talks with Farhana Hossain, a researcher at MDRC, about the problem of youth unemployment.