MDRC staff, 1974 and 2023

This Year Marks an Exciting Milestone for MDRC: Our 50th Anniversary

Founded in 1974 as the “Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation,” MDRC was premised on a conviction that was radical for its time: that new social programs, like new drugs, should undergo careful testing to validate their effectiveness.

Over the next 50 years, we held firm in this founding belief: that following the evidence wherever it leads, no matter how unexpected or uncomfortable, is the only way to truly reduce inequities and improve the lives of those living in poverty.

Yet the very strength of this conviction also drove us to evolve and adapt—from expanding our areas of focus to better address problems at their roots, to helping our partners use their own data to scale up and sustain impact.

Above all, the story of MDRC is the story of social policy over the last 50 years. And that story—even with all its ups and downs—is a story of hope: proof that progress on seemingly intractable problems, from improving high school graduation rates to reducing prison recidivism, is possible.

Over the coming months, we invite you to join us as we delve into the story of MDRC’s first 50 years—and the many impacts we are proud to have helped our partners create for those living in poverty—and explore what all of this means for what comes next.

Impact Cases

Diverse group of college students talking with each other outdoors

Measure for Measure

How Innovations in Course Placement are Helping Community College Students Succeed

From Job to Career

The Changing Landscape—and Growing Impact—of Career and Technical Education

The MDRC Gueron Scholars Program: Building Career Pathways into Policy Research

LinkedIn Features

Collage of masked social worker visiting a family, a group shot of masked STRIVE team members, and a report cover about changes in home visiting since the pandemic began

How did MDRC navigate the COVID-19 pandemic alongside our partners?

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Collage of photos of Barbara Blum, along with the cover for a book called The Willowbrook Wars

Over the last 50 years, a number of people’s contributions have made MDRC what it is today.

The late Barbara Blum is one such person.

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Collage showing London street scenes along with MDRC report cover

One little-known lesson from MDRC’s story? 

The power of evidence-based policymaking does not stop at the U.S. border.

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What’s the relationship between MDRC and academia?

We have a long history of shaping each other’s work.

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Images of an MDRC employee in 1979 as well as from an early MDRC report with a map of the US

How do we transform research into impact?

For the last 50 years, that challenge has been at the heart of MDRC’s work.

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Collage of Judith Gueron at different points in time over MDRC's history

How can students from underrepresented groups break into the social policy sector?

Just ask Judy Gueron.

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Images related to MDRC's work with JobsPlus - high-rise apartments and US maps showing states over time

At the heart of MDRC’s 50-year story—and the impact we’ve created—is our work with federal agencies.

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Collage of Sharon Rowser with MDRC employees through the years

Behind the values and capabilities that MDRC has built up over 50 years are an incredible group of people.

And one of the people who most profoundly shaped MDRC’s work is Sharon Rowser.

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Collage showing men being helped by the Center for Employment Opportunities, plus work jackets with the CEO logo

How can formerly incarcerated people get a second chance at a better life?

From the beginning, that question has driven the work of our long-time partner, the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO).

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Image of old MDRC office with full name spelled out and contemporary office with new name on a sign

Why did we change our name in 2003 from the “Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation” to, simply, MDRC?

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