Ortolani currently serves as the resource manager on the Social Innovation Fund’s Jobs-Plus and Family Rewards studies, as well as MDRC’s Opportunity NYC-Work Rewards and Family Rewards demonstrations, the Paycheck Plus evaluation (testing an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for single workers without dependent children in New York City), the evaluation of the Chicago’s New Communities Program (an innovative community development initiative in Chicago), and a microlending study. In this role, she works with project directors and task leaders to manage their projects’ budgets and staffing plans, and serves as a liaison to the relevant funding agencies, subcontractors, and other outside partners. Ortolani has also assisted with random assignment processes, and has helped provide technical assistance to program providers. Before joining MDRC, she was a project coordinator for the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, helping to coordinate the Innovations for an Urban World, Rockefeller Foundation Global Urban Summit. She has over 15 years of nonprofit experience, including work for the Foundation Center, a leading source of information about philanthropy. She received a master’s degree in public administration from Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs and a BA in metropolitan studies from New York University.
The Grameen America program uses a group microlending model that was pioneered by the original Grameen Bank program in Bangladesh designed by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus and has since spread throughout the developing world. As in the original model, loans provided in the United States are approved on a group-lending basis, whereby individuals form groups...
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Corps program provides education and training to disadvantaged young people. It offers high school education services combined with career and technical training in a residential setting. The Cascades College and Career Academy ( CCCA ) pilot is an ambitious and evidence-based attempt to improve upon the Job Corps model for its...
In 2007, New York City officials launched three related initiatives testing distinct strategies for promoting employment and economic well-being among recipients of housing assistance, particularly those receiving rent subsidies through Housing Choice Vouchers (also known as “Section 8” assistance, after Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937). Called the Work Rewards...
Despite improvements to the physical conditions of many low-income neighborhoods and the reversal of the disinvestment experienced in the 1970s to 1990s, poverty and limited economic mobility remain obstacles to residents of very low-income communities. For this reason, the New York City Change Capital Fund ( CCF ), a collaboration of 17 foundations and financial...Cynthia Miller, Dan Bloom, Gilda Azurdia, Caroline Schultz, Nikki Ortolani, Edith Yang, Alexandra Bernardi
The New York City Center for Economic Opportunity has selected MDRC and its partners to implement and evaluate a pilot program to simulate an expanded EITC in New York City for low-income single workers without dependent children, with the goal of increasing employment and earnings and reducing poverty.
Can community-led efforts improve outcomes for residents at the neighborhood level? This is a critical question for policy and practice. For over a decade, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has supported the Local Initiatives Support Corporation of Chicago ( LISC Chicago) to make neighborhoods safer, support young people, improve schools, and preserve...James A. Riccio, Gilda Azurdia, Nandita Verma, Donna Wharton-Fields, Cynthia Miller, Jared Smith, Edith Yang, Betsy L. Tessler, Nikki Ortolani
In March 2007, former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced his intention to test a set of antipoverty initiatives, called Opportunity NYC , that would use temporary cash payments to poor families to boost their income in the short term, while building their ability to avoid longer-term and second-generation poverty. Such payments are known internationally...Nandita Verma, James A. Riccio, Donna Wharton-Fields, Betsy L. Tessler, Nikki Ortolani, Jonathan Bigelow, M. Victoria Quiroz Becerra, Edith Yang
Public housing developments are among the most economically challenged neighborhoods in the United States. In fact, many public housing residents face obstacles to employment even beyond those normally experienced by other low-income people. To address this problem, Jobs-Plus was conceived in the mid-1990s by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ( HUD...