Many programs and agencies collect data about their clients and service use but they may not have the time and resources to use those data to inform their decision making. This post shares some simple approaches for how to use data to improve programs.
Partnering with Young People to Study Persistence and Engagement in the Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential Initiative
Participatory research—including members of a group being studied—recognizes that people closest to a problem have unique perspectives and knowledge. MDRC collaborated with a group of youth fellows in the Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential project, and found that this approach can lead to better evaluation results.
A Review of the Literature
More than 5 million American children under the age of 18, a disproportionate number of whom are Black or Latino, have had a parent incarcerated. This report reviews studies about promising programs that seek to maintain and build healthy relationships between parents who are incarcerated and their children.
Participants in the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program are more likely to obtain a GED or high school diploma, earn college credits, and be employed. This study evaluates an expansion called Job ChalleNGe, which includes more court-involved youth and includes an add-on residential training program.
Promising Results from a Bridge-to-College Model
Bridge-to-college programs aim to help people complete high school and enroll in postsecondary education. This evaluation of one such program at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, WI finds that it helped more students earn their GEDs and enroll in college courses.
Amid keen interest in helping students, young adults, and low-wage workers build the skills necessary to succeed in a technologically advanced economy, MDRC is studying a range of programs that feature employer involvement, such as career pathways from high school into college and the workforce, work-based learning, apprenticeships, and sectoral training.
Findings from the B3 Study
This brief describes an early analysis of Just Beginning (JB), a five-session, one-on-one program that uses videos and father-child play activities to build parenting skills. While JB was implemented successfully, only 55 percent of fathers completed at least one JB session, though those fathers typically completed most of the curriculum.
Findings from the B3 Study
This brief presents an early analysis of a program incorporating interactive cognitive-behavioral techniques with job-readiness services for fathers recently involved in the justice system. Implementation succeeded, but about 30 percent of fathers did not engage in the program or in existing fatherhood services, suggesting similar participation challenges in both.
Data from management information systems, direct observations, and the reactions of staff members can help programs understand themselves, identify areas for improvement, and set goals. This infographic presents examples of how programs in the Building Bridges and Bonds study used data from different sources to gain insights.
Lessons on Adapting Interventions for Young People Experiencing Homelessness or Systems Involvement
Young people who experience homelessness or involvement in foster care or justice systems face unique challenges. The Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential (LEAP)TM initiative aims to help this population reach its full potential. An MDRC evaluation of two programs adapted by 10 LEAP grantees will contribute knowledge to this field.