NYC Center for Economic Opportunity

Celebrating Data-Driven Programs

At Public Works Partners, we know firsthand the power data has to help service providers create and deliver smart programs that meet both the current and evolving demands of their clients. Whether by identifying changes in the populations most likely to benefit from program interventions, monitoring the relative impacts of different outreach efforts, or evaluating program results, data enables service providers to focus on the program interventions that are most effective and to distribute resources to maximize their impact. We work with our clients to develop practices to collect the right data, interpret it in the right context, and use it to inform management systems that help them to direct service provision. And we’re always eager to see the impact these tools have on their programs.

ceo_poverty_measureThat’s why we were excited to see the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity and the NYC Young Men’s Initiative announce the winners of a new award—the 2013 Data-Driven Provider Award—that recognizes high-performing service providers that use data to make program decisions and provide effective services to low-income New Yorkers. Award winners come from a variety of CEO and YMI programs including the Financial Empowerment Centers, Young Adult Internship Program, and CUNY Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP)—proving that data can be a game-changer for myriad types of programs and New Yorkers.

You can discover more about this award and the winning service providers at the CEO website. We look forward to seeing the evolution of this award and data-driven programs across New York City.

The NYC Center for Economic Opportunity: An Essential Innovation Mayor de Blasio Should Continue

nyc-ceoAs we prepare to close out another year—and approach the transition in mayoral administrations—we have found ourselves reflecting on all of the work that we and so many of our clients do to reduce the number of people living in poverty—and the tremendous opportunities we have to make these efforts more effective. With these thoughts in mind, Public Works Partners was delighted to see that the Center for an Urban Future recognized the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity as the top anti-poverty initiative of the Bloomberg administration—and provided its full-throated support for the de Blasio administration to retain it.

We would be hard pressed to think of any organization that has done more to test innovative service models, import proven programs to NYC, and inform all of its decisions with data and hard evidence. But CEO has been more than a catalyst for positive change; it has also demonstrated the strategic approach and robust leadership required to have meaningful impact in the face of the seemingly intractable challenge of multigenerational poverty.  It’s CEO’s mix of leadership, innovation, informed risk taking, well-researched advocacy, and substantial investments that make it such a powerful platform on which to build in the next administration.

Looking forward, we hope to see a CEO that continues to test and refine programs, but also one that takes successful programs to scale. The fact that CEO incubated all of its programs in City agencies should help. New commissioners won’t have to go far afield to find good service models to incorporate into the City’s core human services offerings, improving their effectiveness.

You can read more about CUF’s description of CEO and other top anti-poverty initiatives here. All of us at Public Works Partners are very pleased to have been able to work on many of these initiatives and a number of other CEO programs. We look forward to an opportunity to continue to do so.

Good things ahead in 2014. We wish all of our friends, clients and colleagues a peaceful, prosperous and impactful new year.

Family Rewards Second Generation Program: Applying Evidence-Based Learning and Focusing on Program Strengths

The Wall Street Journal provides an informative update on the second generation Family Rewards conditional cash transfer program. The story helps set the record straight by pointing out that the original Family Rewards program produced some promising findings—something that hasn’t received much attention in most media reports.

One of those promising findings was improved on-time graduation rates for students with basic academic proficiencies. This is important because many students who are academically proficient in the 9th grade do not remain proficient, nor do they graduate on time. The research suggests the reward payments may have motivated proficient students to remain focused, maintain their academic success, and graduate.

The story also describes how findings of this sort enabled program designers to simplify the second generation Family Rewards program and focus it on interventions that were most effective. This demonstrates another important point; learning is iterative and program designers evolve successful programs through experience.

We are excited that CEO and MDRC are now testing a refined version of Family Rewards, and we look forward to the additional learning that will be produced. Public Works Partners is also proud to have provided technical assistance to the human services organizations that are implementing the second generation Family Rewards program.

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