Connecting Older Adults to Benefits Programs

This blog was written by Anne Paprocki of Social Policy Research Associates. By providing support for healthcare expenses and food, public benefits programs like the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help low-income older adults stay healthy, self-sufficient, and in their homes. But multiple studies have found that eligible older adults under-enroll in these programs due to stigma, belief that others are more deserving, the perceived burden of applying, or difficulty following complex application and eligibility processes. The National Continue reading →

Job Training for the Automation Age

This blog was written by Annelies M. Goger, Ph.D. of Social Policy Research Associates. The global economy is on the cusp of profound economic shifts stemming from the diffusion of new technologies – such as robots, self-driving vehicles, and machine learning – and the impacts they are likely to have on the US economy and the world as a whole. The oft-cited Ball State University report from 2013 found that 88% of job displacements in manufacturing in the last decade were attributable to automation (productivity Continue reading →

Upskilling Dislocated Manufacturing Workers in Michigan

This blog was written by Heather Lewis-Charp of Social Policy Research Associates. Macomb County Michigan made national headlines after the 2016 presidential election, because the characteristics and voting choices of its electorate were perceived to have been key to the outcome of one of the most fiercely contested elections in recent memory. The results highlighted the negative influence that the shifting manufacturing economy has had on working class men in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. In many ways, Macomb County, home to General Motors, Continue reading →


Determining “what works” in social policy is at the heart of SPR’s work. Evidence—as uncovered through evaluation—is critical to improving policies and programs designed to help those most in need. To share our perspective on the importance of evidence-based policymaking and learn from others in the field, SPR recently participated in the #All4Evidence Twitter chat. Continue reading →

Top Lessons for Conducting Needs Assessments in Migrant Education Programs (MEP)

By Sengsouvanh (Sukey) Leshnick and Hannah Diaz from Social Policy Research Associates What Is a Needs Assessment? A needs assessment is a thorough examination of the needs, interests, and objectives of a program. Information collected through a needs assessment can inform and drive decisions about program design and planning. Results from a needs assessment can help program planners gain critical insight into what program participants and communities need and can also help identify any gaps in services. What Are Migrant Education Programs? Migrant Education Programs Continue reading →

Join Us at AEA 2016!

Join  SPR at the 2016 American Evaluation Association Conference! This year, SPR will be hosting presentations on collaboration between internal and external evaluators and capturing a powerful theory of change for field-building. This year’s AEA conference looks at the design governing all aspects of evaluation and fosters conversation about how evaluators can use design to make the world a better place. For more information, please check out our sessions listed below. 2697: Who Does What? Best Practices for Collaboration Between Internal and External Evaluators Oct 27, 2016 (01:00 Continue reading →

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 →