Illinois

March, 2017

MDRC launches the first of a five-part web series from the Chicago Community Networks study — a mixed-methods initiative that combines formal social network analysis with in-depth field surveys of community practitioners. It measures how community organizations collaborate on local improvement projects and how they come together to shape public policy.

August, 2016

Jobs-Plus – a “place-based,” workforce-development model proven to help public housing residents find employment – is about to be replicated across the country. This infographics depicts the program model,  its effects on earnings, and the history of its development over the past 20 years.

Interim Impact Findings from the Investing in Innovation (i3) Evaluation of Diplomas Now

June, 2016

The Diplomas Now whole-school reform model, including targeted interventions for students at risk of dropping out, had an impact on the percentage of students with no early warning indicators related to attendance, behavior, or course performance, and had more encouraging results in middle schools than high schools.

Third Annual Report

April, 2016

MIHOPE-Strong Start is the largest random assignment study to date examining the effects of home visiting services on birth and health outcomes and health care use. This report describes a partial sample of 1,200 families, explores the priorities and practices of the study programs, and discusses program recruitment.

Incremental Delivery of Financial Aid to Promote College Success

December, 2015

This infographic explains MDRC’s large-scale test of whether an innovative approach to distributing financial aid – through bi-weekly payments, like a paycheck, instead of one or two lump-sum payments – can improve academic outcomes for low-income college students.

Two-Year Impact Report

May, 2015

RExO increased the number and types of services received by participants and improved their self-reported labor market outcomes as well. But there is little evidence it had any impacts on recidivism or other outcomes. Further, the impacts on employment, while statistically significant, are quite small in practical terms.

May, 2015

MDRC’s Aid Like A Paycheck evaluation is testing whether the distribution of financial aid to students in biweekly payments over the course of a term — like a paycheck — can improve academic and financial outcomes for low-income community college students. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the project.

Changing School Practices During the Second Year of Diplomas Now

May, 2015

Diplomas Now, a partnership of three national organizations, aims to increase graduation rates in high-risk schools, targeting support to students who need it most. This second report finds that Diplomas Now schools are differentiating themselves from comparable schools in their implementation of structural and instructional reforms.

May, 2015

In this two-page issue focus, four advisers from MDRC’s College Match project describe how serving as “near-peer” advisers to moderate- and high-achieving high school students from low-income families influenced their own career trajectories.

Insights from the College Match Pilot Program

April, 2015

Research has shown that nationally, between 10 percent and 40 percent of high school graduates who intend to go to college don’t enroll the following fall. In this Issue Focus, former College Match advisers describe strategies they used to combat this “summer melt.”

A Guide for Helping Students Make Informed College Choices

April, 2015

This guide for counselors and advisers offers strategies for helping low-income high school students choose selective colleges that match their academic profiles, financial considerations, and personal needs. It tracks the many steps in the college search, application, and selection process, suggesting ways to incorporate a “match” focus at each stage.

A Summary of Impact and Implementation Findings from Head Start CARES

April, 2015

This two-page issue focus summarizes the main findings from Head Start CARES, a test of three distinct classroom-based approaches to enhancing children’s social-emotional development: Incredible Years Teacher Training Program, Preschool PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies), and Tools of the Mind–Play.

Promoting Knowledge, Sharing Advice, and Giving Support

April, 2015

In this two-page issue focus, five advisers from MDRC’s College Match project reflect on the range of issues facing the students they advised, and describe their efforts to provide informed advice and encouragement to students who may unknowingly underestimate their college options.

An Evaluation of an Effort to Help Nonprofits Manage Their Finances

February, 2015

Nonprofit organizations, which deliver many of the social services Americans receive, often face financial management challenges that affect the quality of their services. This report examines how 25 Chicago-based organizations responded over a four-year period to an initiative designed to improve their ability to address those financial challenges.

The Mother and Infant Home Visiting Program Evaluation-Strong Start Second Annual Report

January, 2015

Policymakers have increasingly encouraged greater use of administrative data to produce timely, rigorous, and lower-cost evaluations of health and social programs. This report details MIHOPE-Strong Start’s process of acquiring administrative vital records and Medicaid data from 20 states and more than 40 state agencies to measure health, health care use, and cost outcomes.

Exploratory Findings from the Head Start CARES Demonstration

December, 2014

This report suggests that evidence-based approaches can improve 3-year-olds’ social-emotional competence in mixed-age preschool classrooms. While the findings are promising, further research is needed to confirm the results and to better understand how these benefits are generated.

The First Year of Implementing Diplomas Now

August, 2014

Three national organizations formed Diplomas Now in an effort to transform urban secondary schools so fewer students drop out. This report introduces Diplomas Now and the associated evaluation, shares first-year implementation fidelity findings, and discusses collaboration among the Diplomas Now partners and between those partners and schools.

Ten Years of Chicago’s New Communities Program

August, 2014

A 10-year, $50-million initiative, the New Communities Program supported community organizations in 14 Chicago neighborhoods to convene local partners to carry out varied improvement activities, from safety to education and affordable housing. This report describes NCP’s successes and challenges and the implications of its experience for federal and local community development programs.

National Evaluation of Three Approaches to Improving Preschoolers’ Social and Emotional Competence

June, 2014

This demonstration tested the effectiveness of three program enhancements implemented at scale that were designed to improve preschool children's social-emotional competence. All three had positive impacts on teacher practice and on children’s social-emotional outcomes during the preschool year, although to varying degrees and not necessarily in the expected ways.

Designing Innovative Solutions for Programs Supported by the Administration for Children and Families

April, 2014

This report describes three sites in the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency project, which applies tools from behavioral economics to improve the well-being of low-income individuals and families — the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division, the Illinois Department of Human Services, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Large-Scale Implementation of Programs to Improve Children’s Social-Emotional Competence

December, 2013

This report describes the extent to which three different classroom-based social-emotional strategies and related professional development supports were implemented as intended in Head Start centers, as well as the degree to which teachers’ practices changed as a result.

December, 2013

MIHOPE-Strong Start, a collaboration of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Administration for Children and Families, and the Health Resources and Services Administration, assesses the impacts of home visiting programs for disadvantaged expectant mothers. This report describes the study and the programs: Healthy Families America and Nurse-Family Partnership.

Incremental Aid to Promote Student Success

September, 2013

Aid Like A Paycheck is based on a simple idea that is gaining national attention: after tuition and fees have been paid to a college, disburse the remaining financial aid to students evenly throughout the term — like a paycheck. This brief describes successful pilot tests at two colleges and discusses policy implications.

Lessons for Practitioners

September, 2013

Too many low-income, college-ready students enroll in colleges for which they are academically overqualified or don’t go to college at all. This brief offers five strategies from MDRC’s College Match Program in Chicago for practitioners interested in helping high school students make the best college match possible.

Final Impact and Implementation Findings from the Foundations of Learning Demonstration in Newark and Chicago

January, 2013

Intensive professional development and in-class support for preschool teachers produced more positive teacher-student interactions, more effective management of challenging behaviors, less problem behavior, higher engagement in learning, and more instruction time. However, there was no clear effect on short-term academic achievement, and the long-term effects on children remain uncertain.

An Analysis of the Interaction among Quality-of-Life Indicators from the New Communities Program Evaluation

June, 2012

This paper explores analytic methods that assess the rate at which changes in neighborhood quality of life occur. It looks at correlations among quality indicators over time and the effect of both neighborhood context and conditions beyond the neighborhood, like the Great Recession, identifying which indicators are predictors of others.

Policy Engagement and Systems Change in the New Communities Program

June, 2012

This report describes the efforts of four local agencies in a comprehensive community initiative (CCI) in Chicago, exploring their engagement with policy issues to improve their neighborhoods. It considers this CCI’s potential for working more actively to change the larger systems that shape neighborhoods, with implications for CCIs nationwide.

Final Results from the Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration

May, 2012

Transitional jobs programs in four Midwestern cities substantially increased short-term employment by providing jobs to many ex-prisoners who would not otherwise have worked. However, the gains faded as men left the transitional jobs, and the programs did not increase unsubsidized employment nor did they reduce recidivism.

Lessons from the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) Project

April, 2012

Many recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other low-income individuals find or keep jobs for a while, but far fewer remain steadily employed and advance in the labor market. This report describes results and draws lessons from rigorous evaluations of 12 programs seeking to improve employment retention and advancement among low-wage workers.

Helping Low-Income and First-Generation Students Make Good College Choices

April, 2012

Too many low-income, college-ready students are “undermatching” — enrolling in colleges for which they are academically overqualified or not going to college at all. Early results from the College Match Program in three Chicago high schools suggest that it’s possible to help students navigate the complicated college application process and make more informed decisions.

Improving Classroom Practices in Head Start Settings

February, 2012

This report offers lessons about using coaches to help teachers carry out a program for improving pre-kindergarteners’ social and emotional readiness for school. It addresses selection of the coaching model; coach hiring, training, support, and supervision; coaching processes; and program management, data, and quality assurance.

Three-Year Results of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Evaluation

June, 2011

After three years, participants in National Guard Youth ChalleNGe, an intensive, “quasi-military” residential program for high school dropouts, are more likely than their control group counterparts to have obtained a GED or high school diploma, to have earned college credits, and to be working. Their earnings are also 20 percent higher.

April, 2011

This paper provides practical guidance for researchers who are designing and analyzing studies that randomize schools — which comprise three levels of clustering (students in classrooms in schools) — to measure intervention effects on student academic outcomes when information on the middle level (classrooms) is missing.

Findings from the Employment Retention and Advancement Project

January, 2011

This 12-page practitioner brief examines the work, education, and training patterns of single parents in the national Employment Retention and Advancement Project, which evaluated strategies to promote employment stability among low-income workers. The findings support other research in underscoring the importance of changing jobs and of access to “good” jobs as strategies to help low-wage workers advance.

Strategies for Interpreting and Reporting Intervention Effects on Subgroups

November, 2010

This revised paper examines strategies for interpreting and reporting estimates of intervention effects for subgroups of a study sample. Specifically, the paper considers: why and how subgroup findings are important for applied research, the importance of prespecifying subgroups before analyses are conducted, and the importance of using existing theory and prior research to distinguish between subgroups for which study findings are confirmatory, as opposed to exploratory.

November, 2010

This report from the national Employment Retention and Advancement Project examines the 27,000 single parents who participated in the studied programs to understand the characteristics of those who successfully advanced in the labor market.

November, 2010

This report from the national Employment Retention and Advancement Project demonstrates that low-income single-parent and two-parent families have a roughly equivalent need for services to support employment retention and advancement and that this need does not differ substantially between men and women in two-parent families.

One-Year Findings from the Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration

October, 2010

The Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration is testing a program that provides temporary subsidized jobs, support services, and job placement help to former prisoners in four midwestern cities. This report describes how the demonstration was implemented and assesses how the transitional jobs programs affected employment and recidivism during the first year after people entered the project.

September, 2010

This report seeks to answer two policy questions: whether providing subsidies to families whose incomes are just over the state’s eligibility limit affects their child care and employment outcomes, and whether extending the length of time before families must reapply for subsidies affects the receipt of subsidies and related outcomes.

Reemployment Strategies in Retention and Advancement Programs for Current and Former Welfare Recipients

June, 2010

When current and former welfare recipients find jobs, they often lose them quickly and have trouble finding another job. This brief, based on the experiences of 12 programs in the national Employment Retention and Advancement evaluation, offers advice on how to design and implement practices that turn a recent job loss into an opportunity to find a better one.

June, 2010

This final report of a two-year evaluation is intended to help states determine how to structure child care subsidy programs. Focusing on how much families should be required to contribute when they receive child care subsidies, the study examined the effects of reduced copayments on subsidy use, employment and earnings, and receipt of public assistance.

Interim Results of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Evaluation

May, 2010

Interim results from a random assignment evaluation of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, an intensive, residential program for high school dropouts, show that young people who had access to ChalleNGe were much more likely than those in the control group to have obtained a high school diploma or a General Educational Development certificate. They were also somewhat more likely to be working, in college, or enlisted in the military.

May, 2010

This report examines the financial benefits and costs of three different programs in the national Employment Retention and Advancement project, sponsored by the federal Administration for Children and Families, that have increased employment and earnings among current and former welfare recipients.

Final Impacts for Twelve Models

April, 2010

This report presents the final implementation and impact findings for 12 programs in the national Employment Retention and Advancement project, sponsored by the federal Administration for Children and Families. These programs attempted to promote steady work and career advancement for current and former welfare recipients and other low-wage workers, most of whom were single mothers.

Interim Findings from Chicago’s New Communities Program

February, 2010

A 10-year, $47 million MacArthur Foundation initiative, the New Communities Program was developed and is managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation of Chicago. This interim report focuses on the roll out of this comprehensive neighborhood improvement initiative and its early implementation years, examining community conditions, how local groups worked together, and the more than 700 projects supported through 2008.

Implementation Lessons from the Foundations of Learning Demonstration

December, 2009

Foundations of Learning provided in-class training and support to teachers, and one-on-one clinical services to children, to enhance preschool quality. This report offers lessons regarding program design, management, staffing, and professional development issues that arose during implementation in Newark, NJ.

A Preview of Findings from the Foundations of Learning Demonstration

September, 2009

Early evaluation results from Newark, NJ, show that Foundations of Learning improved teachers’ classroom management and productivity, reduced children’s conflict with peers, and engaged students in the learning tasks of preschool. The intervention was implemented in Head Start programs, community-based child care centers, and public schools.

Testing Strategies to Help Former Prisoners Find and Keep Jobs and Stay Out of Prison

July, 2009

Each year, almost 700,000 people are released from state prisons, and many struggle to find jobs and integrate successfully into society. This policy brief describes an innovative demonstration of transitional jobs programs for former prisoners in Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, and St. Paul being conducted by MDRC.

Early Results of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program Evaluation

February, 2009

Very early results from a random assignment evaluation of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, an intensive, “quasi-military” residential program for high school dropouts, show that the program has large impacts on high school diploma and GED attainment and positive effects on working, college-going, health, self-efficacy, and avoiding arrest.

October, 2006

An evaluation of a retention and advancement program for recently employed welfare recipients shows modest increases in employment and large reductions in welfare receipt during the first two years of follow-up.

What Have We Learned, What Are We Learning, and Where Should We Go from Here?

July, 2006

Each year, the more than 600,000 people released from prison face numerous obstacles to successful reentry into society, starting with the challenge of finding stable work. What does existing research say about the effectiveness of work-focused programs for ex-prisoners?

Implications for High School Reform
A Commentary from Chicago

April, 2006

In this paper, prepared for MDRC’s 2005 high school reform conference, Melissa Roderick, Co-Director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research, contends that the primary goal of high school reform should be to close the gap between the high aspirations of minority and low-income public high school students — most of whom want to go to college — and the low numbers who graduate with the skills they need.

Final Report on the Center for Employment Training Replication Sites

September, 2005

The Center for Employment Training (CET) in San Jose, California, produced large, positive employment and earnings effects for out-of-school youth in the late 1980s. However, in this replication study, even the highest-fidelity sites did not increase employment or earnings for youth over the 54-month follow-up period, despite short-term positive effects for women.

Evidence from a Sample of Recent CET Applicants

September, 2005

This working paper examines employment and earnings over a four-year period for a group of disadvantaged out-of-school youth who entered the Evaluation of the Center for Employment Training (CET) Replication Sites between 1995 and 1999. It assesses the importance of three key factors as barriers to employment: lack of a high school diploma, having children, and having an arrest record.

July, 2005

Early results are mixed for Employment Retention and Advancement project programs in four sites, but programs in two sites appear to help some welfare recipients work more steadily and advance to higher-paying jobs.

New Findings on Policy Experiments Conducted in the Early 1990s

April, 2005

In welfare and employment programs that provide earnings supplements, increased family income plays a key role in improving children’s school achievement.

Evidence from Three States

March, 2005

In a study of over 3,500 women in welfare-to-work programs in three states, child care instability did not appear to be a major cause of employment instability.

The Role of Informal Care in the Lives of Low-Income Women and Children

October, 2003

Drawing on ethnographic interviews, this policy brief describes the patchwork child care arrangements made by low-income parents and discusses implications for policies that would promote the dual objectives of child well-being and parental employment.

Early Implementation Experiences of Employment Retention and Advancement Programs

October, 2003

Describing the initial experiences of 15 Employment Retention and Advancement programs in 8 states, this report emphasizes implementation issues and focuses on connections among the agencies and institutions that deliver retention and advancement services to low-income workers and hard-to-employ populations.

Thirty-Month Findings from the Evaluation of the Center for Employment Training Replication Sites

June, 2003

Efforts to replicate the experience of the Center for Employment Training in San Jose, California — a uniquely successful program that helped at-risk youth develop skills needed to compete in today’s labor market — showed mixed results.

Evidence from Ten Experimental Welfare-to-Work Programs

June, 2003

Evidence from Random Assignment Studies of Welfare and Work Programs

June, 2003

The Effects of Welfare Reform Policies on Marriage and Cohabitation

April, 2003

Patching Together Care for Children When Parents Move from Welfare to Work

April, 2003

Ethnographic Evidence from Working Poor Families in the New Hope Intervention

April, 2003

Lessons and Implications for Future Community Employment Initiatives

March, 2003

Drawing upon the experiences of the lead community organizations during the initiative’s implementation phase, this third and final NJI report explores the feasibility and effectiveness of NJI’s novel approach to neighborhood revitalization.

How Welfare and Work Policies Influence Parents' Decisions

August, 2002

Congressional deliberations on the future of welfare reform have reopened a debate about whether current child care assistance programs adequately support employment among low-income working parents while also fostering their children's development. Issues at the forefront of this debate are explored in this timely new policy brief.

Developing the Neighborhood Jobs Initiative in Fort Worth, Texas

May, 2002

A Synthesis of Research

May, 2002

The latest research synthesis from the Next Generation project takes a closer look at troubling findings regarding the effects of welfare and work programs on the teenaged children of program enrollees.

An Introduction to the Employment Retention and Advancement Project

February, 2002

Welfare reform has resulted in millions of low-income parents replacing the receipt of public cash assistance with income from employment. But what strategies will help the new workforce entrants find more stable jobs, advance in the labor market, and achieve long-term self-sufficiency? The Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) evaluation is a comprehensive effort to explore this urgent public policy question.

Integrating and Instrumental Variables Analytic Method with an Experimental Design

January, 2002

Welfare-Reliant Women's Post-TANF Views of Work-Family Trade-offs and Marriage

December, 2001

Situating Child Care and Child Care Subsidy Use in the Daily Routines of Lower-Income Families

December, 2001

A Look at Early Implementation and Impacts on Student Achievement in Eight Elementary Schools

November, 2001

Methodological Lessons from an Evaluation of Accelerated Schools

October, 2001

The Effects of Welfare and Employment Programs on Child Care

September, 2001

An Early Report on the Vision and Challenges of Bringing an Employment Focus to a Community-Building Initiative

May, 2001

Final Report on a Comprehensive Program for Young Mothers in Poverty and Their Children

January, 1997

Final Report on a Program for School Dropouts

October, 1993
Project Overview

Chicago has seen a staggering increase in violent crime over the past three years, with violent crime rates that are over double the national average.

Project Overview

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — formerly the food stamp program —is a critical work support for low-income people and families.

Project Overview

Nonprofit organizations, which deliver many of the social services Americans receive, often suffer from weak financial management capacity that affects the quality of their services.

Project Overview

The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) was the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) flagship redevelopment program and at the time its most significant neighborhood transformation initiative in decades.

Project Overview

Can existing financial aid programs do more to help low-income college students achieve academic success?

Project Overview

Adverse birth outcomes result in significant emotional and economic costs for families and communities. One promising avenue for helping expectant women is home visiting programs, which work with parents to promote prenatal care and improve infant health.

Project Overview

The more than 600,000 people who are released from prison each year face a range of obstacles to successful reentry into the community. Perhaps not surprisingly, outcomes are often poor: Two-thirds of those who are released from prison are rearrested and half are reincarcerated within three years.

Project Overview

Can community-led efforts improve outcomes for residents at the neighborhood level? This is a critical question for policy and practice. For over a decade, The John D. and Catherine T.

Project Overview

Head Start, which serves nearly 1 million low-income children, is the nation’s largest federally sponsored early childhood education program.

Project Overview

The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) is the federal government’s largest source of federally funded employment services and training. WIA is the latest in a series of federal employment and training programs, the first having arisen in response to the Great Depression.

Project Overview

While educators and officials across the United States are struggling with how to raise student achievement and improve graduation rates, very few programs have been shown to work at scale in achieving either goal.

Project Overview

To remain globally competitive and to advance economic opportunity for all its residents, the United States must dramatically increase the number of low-income students who enroll in and graduate from college.

Project Overview

An estimated five million Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 are both out of school and unemployed. These youth are more likely than those who work or complete a degree to face long-term unemployment, permanent school dropout, welfare dependence, and criminal involvement and incarceration.

Project Overview

Elementary schools that educate children at risk of academic failure have traditionally responded by offering remedial instruction that slows the pace of learning. Research suggests, however, that remediation makes it harder for students to catch up and join the educational mainstream.

Project Overview

In the mid-1980s, three developments long in the making — a dramatic increase in out-of-wedlock childbearing, the high cost of providing welfare to young poor women who become mothers, and the difficulties faced by their children — became a focus of concern among policymakers and the public alike.

Project Overview

Young people without postsecondary education or vocational credentials face an uphill battle in the competition for jobs.

Project Overview

Investments in child care by the federal government and individual states grew substantially in the years after passage of the 1996 federal welfare reform law, increasing from $3.6 billion in 1996 to $11.4 billion in 2005. As a result, many more low-income families with working parents were able to receive help in paying for child care.

Project Overview

Over the past two decades, poverty has become increasingly concentrated in the nation’s inner cities, while many employment opportunities — especially entry-level jobs for people with limited education and skills — have relocated to the urban periphery.

Project Overview

The federal welfare overhaul of 1996 ushered in myriad policy changes aimed at getting low-income parents off public assistance and into employment.

Project Overview

For low-income youth who lack basic skills and drop out of school, finding employment at a living wage is a challenge.

Project Overview

The welfare system has been transformed over the past two decades, notably through the introduction of stricter work requirements and time limits on cash assistance in the 1990s. At the same time, government at both the federal and the state level invested in offering financial work supports of unprecedented scope to low-income parents.

Project Overview

Low-income children too often begin school without the basic behavioral, emotional, and cognitive skills that they need to thrive academically — putting them at an immediate disadvantage and contributing to the large gap that develops in school achievement between low-income children and their more affluent peers.

Project Overview

Public housing developments are among the most economically challenged neighborhoods in the United States. In fact, many public housing residents face obstacles to employment even beyond those normally experienced by other low-income people.