• MDRC Publications


      A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of the Male Student Success Initiative for Men of Color

      September, 2023
      Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Michelle S. Manno, Oscar Cerna, Erika B. Lewy, Edith Yang, Amanda Martin-Lawrence

      Research literature is rich with theories about the challenges faced by male students of color who strive to achieve college success and completion. This report provides the first causal estimates of the effects of a college program targeting male students of color on academic outcomes.


      Final Report of the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) Project

      May, 2017
      Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Caitlin Anzelone, Nadine Dechausay

      The BIAS project tested behavioral interventions in child support, child care, and work support programs with nearly 100,000 low-income clients in eight human services agencies. Each site saw at least one significant, low-cost impact. The findings suggest that small environmental changes can enhance client-agency interactions and expanded behavioral strategies might help strengthen programs and policies.


      Testimony Submitted to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance

      September, 2015
      Alexander Mayer, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, John Diamond

      This testimony presented by MDRC’s Alex Mayer to the federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance identifies several areas as being worthy of innovation paired with rigorous evaluation, including year-round financial aid, Federal Work-Study, and “satisfactory academic progress” in the Pell Grant program.


      Submitted to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

      September, 2015
      Lashawn Richburg-Hayes

      Following up on testimony delivered before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on August 5, 2015, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes submitted additional information on opportunities for innovation in financial aid and student support services in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.


      Interim Findings from the Performance-Based Scholarship Demonstration in California

      June, 2015
      Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Reshma Patel, Thomas Brock, Elijah de la Campa, Timothy Rudd, Ireri Valenzuela

      This report presents early findings from a random assignment evaluation of performance-based scholarships targeting college-bound high school seniors in California. The scholarships were completely portable, meaning that a student could use them at any accredited, degree-granting college or university.


      Designing Innovative Solutions for Programs Supported by the Administration for Children and Families

      April, 2014
      Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Caitlin Anzelone, Nadine Dechausay, Saugato Datta, Alexandra Fiorillo, Louis Potok, Matthew Darling, John Balz

      This report describes three sites in the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency project, which applies tools from behavioral economics to improve the well-being of low-income individuals and families — the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division, the Illinois Department of Human Services, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.


      A Technical Supplement to “Behavioral Economics and Social Policy”

      April, 2014
      Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Caitlin Anzelone, Nadine Dechausay, Saugato Datta, Alexandra Fiorillo, Louis Potok, Matthew Darling, John Balz

      This technical supplement to an introductory report for the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project presents a description of behavioral interventions that have been commonly researched in studies.


      Student Characteristics and Patterns of (Un)Affordability

      February, 2014
      Rashida Welbeck, John Diamond, Alexander Mayer, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes

      This paper reviews the literature on financial aid and college achievement, examines data from MDRC’s Performance-Based Scholarship Demonstration to identify relationships between students’ financial aid and their persistence and academic achievement, and concludes with recommendations for how these collective findings should affect financial aid policy.


      Interim Findings from the PBS Demonstration

      August, 2013
      Reshma Patel, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Elijah de la Campa, Timothy Rudd

      Interim results suggest that performance-based scholarships improve students’ academic performance and increase the number of credits they earn. In some sites, the scholarships also appear to reduce student debt. In the one location for which data are available so far, the program increased the proportion of students earning a degree.

      October, 2011
      Reshma Patel, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes

      This brief summarizes results from performance-based scholarship programs in Louisiana, New Mexico, New York, and Ohio. These scholarships can move the dial on important markers of academic success for students, including credits attempted and earned and rates of full-time enrollment.


      Early Impacts from the Performance-Based Scholarship Demonstration in New York

      May, 2011
      Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Colleen Sommo, Rashida Welbeck

      Low-income adults needing remediation received a scholarship if they maintained at least part-time enrollment and met attendance and grade point average benchmarks. Early results show that the program modestly increased full-time enrollment and, among students who were eligible for summer funding, summer registration.


      Five Years of Achieving the Dream in Community Colleges

      February, 2011
      Elizabeth Zachry Rutschow, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Thomas Brock, Genevieve Orr, Oscar Cerna, Dan Cullinan, Monica Reid Kerrigan, Davis Jenkins, Susan Gooden, Kasey Martin

      This interim report examines the experiences of the first 26 colleges to join the ambitious Achieving the Dream initiative. Launched by Lumina Foundation for Education in 2004, Achieving the Dream helps community colleges collect and analyze student performance data in order to build a “culture of evidence,” enabling the colleges to use that knowledge to develop programs to increase students’ academic success.


      An Introduction to the Performance-Based Scholarship Demonstration

      October, 2009
      Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Paulette Cha, Monica Cuevas, Amanda Grossman, Reshma Patel, Colleen Sommo

      This policy brief describes a demonstration launched by MDRC in four states in 2008 to evaluate whether performance-based scholarships — paid contingent on attaining academic benchmarks — are an effective way to improve persistence and academic success among low-income college students. The demonstration builds on positive results from an earlier MDRC study in Louisiana.


      Effects of a Performance-Based Scholarship Program for Low-Income Parents

      January, 2009
      Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Thomas Brock, Allen J. LeBlanc, Christina Paxson, Cecilia Elena Rouse, Lisa Barrow

      This report describes the impacts of a performance-based scholarship program with a counseling component on academic success and persistence among low-income parents. Students who participated in the program, which was operated at two New Orleans-area colleges as part of MDRC’s multisite Opening Doors demonstration, were more likely to stay in school, get higher grades, and earn more credits.

      Working Paper

      Rationale, Sites, and Research Design

      May, 2008
      Mary Visher, Heather Wathington, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Emily Schneider

      Launched in 2007 by MDRC and the National Center for Postsecondary Research, the Learning Communities Demonstration is testing models of this promising approach in six community colleges in five states. This report describes the research design, including information about the colleges and their models, the random assignment process, data sources, analysis plans, and reporting schedule.

      Working Paper

      Lessons from Research on Welfare Training Programs and Two Promising Community College Strategies

      February, 2008
      Lashawn Richburg-Hayes

      This working paper, prepared for a conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, reviews what is known about education acquisition by low-wage workers and highlights promising strategies being tested at several community colleges.


      Income Support Systems in Cuyahoga and Philadelphia, 2000 to 2005

      March, 2007
      David Seith, Sarah Rich, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes

      This report, part of MDRC’s Project on Devolution and Urban Change, tells the story of Cleveland’s and Philadelphia’s welfare systems in the early 2000s, a time marked by an economic downturn, state budget cuts, and welfare time limits.


      Early Results of a Louisiana Scholarship Program for Low-Income Parents Attending Community College

      May, 2006
      Thomas Brock, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes

      Funded by state welfare dollars, two community colleges in the New Orleans area offered performance-based scholarships and enhanced counseling to low-income parents, as part of MDRC’s Opening Doors demonstration. These early findings show the program had significant positive effects on academic achievement and rates of retention.


      A Study in Four Big Cities
      A Technical Report

      December, 2005
      Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Isaac Kwakye

      This technical report describes food stamp caseload dynamics between January 1993 and December 2001 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Los Angeles, California; Miami-Dade County, Florida; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


      Empirical Guidance for Studies That Randomize Schools to Measure the Impacts of Educational Interventions

      November, 2005
      Howard Bloom, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Alison Rebeck Black

      This paper examines how controlling statistically for baseline covariates (especially pretests) improves the precision of studies that randomize schools to measure the impacts of educational interventions on student achievement.


      Implementation, Effects, and Experiences of Poor Families and Neighborhoods

      August, 2005
      Denise Polit, Laura Nelson, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, David Seith

      Welfare caseloads fell, employment increased, and neighborhood conditions improved in Los Angeles during a period of economic growth and welfare reform. However, most welfare recipients still remained poor, the concentration of poverty increased, and those who worked were usually in low-wage jobs without benefits.


      Implementation, Effects, and Experiences of Poor Families and Neighborhoods

      June, 2004
      Thomas Brock, Isaac Kwakye, Judy Polyne, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, David Seith, Alex Stepick, Carol Dutton Stepick

      Welfare caseloads fell, employment increased, and social conditions generally improved in Miami-Dade County after the 1996 federal welfare reform law was passed, but the county’s welfare-to-work program was poorly implemented and unusually harsh.

      April, 2004
      Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Stephen Freedman

      In MDRC’s study of over 160,000 single-parent welfare recipients, families who repeatedly return to welfare assistance—“cyclers”—were less disadvantaged in the labor market than long-term welfare recipients. At the same time, they were less able than short-term recipients to attain stable employment and to work without welfare.


      Implementation, Effects, and Experiences of Poor Families and Neighborhoods

      October, 2003
      Charles Michalopoulos, Kathryn Edin, Barbara Fink, Mirella Landriscina, Denise Polit, Judy Polyne, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, David Seith, Nandita Verma

      Based on a comprehensive body of evidence, this report from the Project on Devolution and Urban Change examines how changes in Pennsylvania’s welfare reform policies combined with a strong regional economy in the late 1990s to create substantial change in the welfare system in Philadelphia.


      Five-Year Results of a Program to Reduce Poverty and Reform Welfare

      June, 2003
      Aletha Huston, Cynthia Miller, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Greg Duncan, Carolyn Eldred, Thomas S. Weisner, Edward D. Lowe, Vonnie McLoyd, Danielle Crosby, Marika N. Ripke, Cindy Redcross

      This rigorous long-term evaluation reveals that building a safety net of financial supports for low-income parents who work improved the well-being of their children.


      Implementation, Effects, and Experiences of Poor Families and Neighborhoods

      September, 2002
      Thomas Brock, Claudia Coulton, Andrew London, Denise Polit, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Ellen Scott, Nandita Verma

      This report from the Project on Devolution and Urban Change examines how welfare reform has played out in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County, which encompasses Cleveland, based on a comprehensive body of evidence that includes administrative records, surveys, and ethnographic interviews.

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