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 →

Planned Versus Actual: Lessons Learned in Assessing Fidelity to a Program Model

This blog was written by Heather Lewis-Charp and Antoinnae Comeaux of Social Policy Research Associates. As education and workforce development programs become more focused on accountability, education and workforce development funders and stakeholders increasingly want evaluations that will rigorously assess program outcomes across different locations and different types of organizations. Given how diverse implementation may be across sites, how can evaluators measure this variation and understand how it impacts outcomes? One option is to assess program fidelity, or the degree to which a program is 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 →

Join Us at AEA 2015!

Join  SPR at the 2015 American Evaluation Association Conference! This year, SPR will be hosting 8 presentations ranging from cultural competence in evaluation to utilizing social network analysis to assess equity networks. For more information, please check out our announcement. Sessions are also listed below.   1310:Assessing Program Fidelity in Education and Workforce Programs: Tools and Lessons Learned Thu, Nov 12, 2015 (07:00 AM – 07:45 AM) Heather Lewis-Charp [Senior Associate – Social Policy Research Associates] Antoinnae Comeaux [Associate – Social Policy Research Associates]   2672:Fostering Cultural 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 →

Share Information, Change the World: Big Data, Small Apps and Smart Dashboards

Workforce data used to come in primarily two flavors: Performance data that helped us understand something about the effectiveness of workforce programs and services based outcomes of people enrolled in them; and Labor market data that told us where jobs were (and weren’t) and were often shared in the form of monthly reports (PDFs…) or analyzed by state labor market researchers and turned into topical papers or briefs. How the world has changed! We are awash in data. Mobile devices and apps are radically changing Continue reading →

NAWB is here! Come scrum. No helmet required.

If you know SPR, then you know we’re always on the hunt for ideas, tools, and methods for working better, smarter, faster, and toward greater impact – especially in our work supporting multi-stakeholder collaboratives pursuing shared goals. We often employ simulation in such work – designing fast-paced, highly-engaging activities that help diverse groups strategize, problem-solve, or just brainstorm. A recent HUD-supported initiative took such collaboration to a whole new level: teams of regional partners representing economic development, transportation, planning, housing, environmental quality, human services, and 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 →

Strengthening the Domestic Violence Field in California

In 2010, domestic violence (DV) service organizations in California faced considerable economic and political upheaval. One of the most significant DV public funding programs in California was cut, thus forcing agencies to close or lay off staff and mobilize emergency fundraising and advocacy campaigns. The DV field was at a critical juncture, with both challenges and opportunities for moving forward. Additional challenges included a sense of isolation, increasing executive transitions, and the more complex needs of diverse populations experiencing DV in California. In response, in Continue reading →