Author Archives: SPR

Helping Our Clients Ensure Data Quality

This blog was written by Hannah Betesh of Social Policy Research Associates. Ensuring high-quality data is essential for program evaluation. Information about who programs serve and what kinds of services participants access makes it possible for SPR to provide insightful analysis—and to help our clients improve their programs. How can programs ensure high-quality data to support both our evaluation and their own program planning? One client, a foundation that has made a substantial investment in creating and maintaining a services database to track outcomes for its Continue reading →

Learning to Work in 2016

This blog was written by Kristin Wolff of Social Policy Research Associates and Mary V.L. Wright of Jobs for the Future. If you are in the workforce development business, you can hardly get through a day without encountering a crisis-laden reference to the “skills gap.” Sometimes the term refers to an absence of the technical skills employers expect of their workers, and sometimes to workers’ lack of familiarity with knowledge important to their industry or profession. But most often, it refers to the absence of the Continue reading →

From Required Job Search to Voluntary Skill Building: The Evolution and Future of the SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) Program

This blog was written by Debbie Kogan of Social Policy Research Associates. More than one in eight people – some 45 million – receive food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Once called “food stamps,” SNAP is a key part of America’s social safety net. Most SNAP recipients are exempt from the program’s work effort requirements, either because they are already working at least twenty hours a week in low-wage jobs or are not required to work because they are younger than Continue reading →

Foundation Exits from Large-Scale Initiatives: Is a Graceful Exit Possible?

This blog was written by Hanh Cao Yu and Daniela Berman of Social Policy Research Associates. Exiting from specific grants and grantee relationships is an inevitable part of philanthropy. Yet the process is too often treated as an afterthought: funders often devote far too little time to planning and working through the tensions and issues that arise. The process becomes even more complex when the exit is not just from one grant or program, but from a large, multiyear, place-based, policy/systems change initiative. This question of Continue reading →

Eight Lessons for Foundations Interested in Building the Capacity of Nonprofits

How does an organization become healthier and stronger? Many foundations are interested in the answer to this question so that—through capacity-building grants and other support—their grantees can become more effective in realizing their larger goals and mission. Following are some key lessons and reflections from SPR’s organizational effectiveness studies conducted for philanthropic clients. Devote adequate support for implementation and follow-up. A top priority area for both grantees and foundation staff is devoting sufficient support—in the form of additional funds and time—for the critical implementation stage Continue reading →

Unfogging the Mirror: Getting the Most of your Data using Dashboards

Interactive data dashboards are an important tool that SPR uses to enhance data accessibility, transparency and quality. Data dashboards provide diverse program stakeholders with a quick and timely snapshot of where they are in relation to program goals and desired outcomes. When data is transparent and accessible, it can be used to inform decision making and it can also motivate partners to ensure that data entry is complete and accurate. SPR is using a data dashboard in a multi-year evaluation of community colleges funded under Continue reading →

How Communities Can Reduce Recidivism

Crime imposes direct and significant costs on society. Victims of crime are affected both economically (through lost or damaged property) and socially (through emotional and physical trauma). Indirectly, crime is costly to society because the administrative apparatus that prosecutes, incarcerates, and supervises offenders is very expensive. Because repeat offenders commit a disproportionate share of crime, any program that reduces the propensity of offenders to recidivate is likely to generate significant benefits for society. Policymakers in the United States are aware of the enormous potential gains Continue reading →