Evidence First: MDRC Podcasts


Policymakers talk about solutions, but which ones really work? MDRC’s Evidence First podcasts feature experts — program administrators, policymakers, and researchers — talking about the best evidence available on education and social programs that serve low-income people.



Early math ability is one of the best predictors of children’s math and reading skills into late elementary school. Children with stronger math proficiency in elementary school are then more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. MDRC wanted to know: What kinds of math programs can improve children’s early math abilities? And can they lead to positive impacts on other longer-term outcomes? Join Katie Beal as she talks to Shira Mattera, Research Associate at MDRC, and Robin Jacob, a Research Associate Professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, about the positive impacts of the Making Pre-K Count and High 5s demonstrations.


Social service organizations and education programs aim to help the people they serve achieve positive outcomes, but some participants still don’t succeed. Predictive analytics is a tool that can help programs use existing data to predict which clients are at risk of not meeting important milestones. This can help program staff intervene with additional supports for those who need them and, hopefully, avoid unwanted outcomes.
Join Katie Beal as she talks to Rekha Balu, Research Associate at MDRC, and Brad Dudding, Chief Operating Officer at the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), to learn more about how CEO is using predictive analytics.


College Promise programs help students access college by covering the cost of tuition and fees, but they do not typically address barriers to student success. In this podcast, Alyssa Ratledge and Monica Rodriguez discuss the Detroit Promise Path, which provides evidence-based support strategies to students to help them stay in school and graduate.


School choice can be an arduous process and can prove especially challenging for low-income or recent-immigrant families. Offering supports, simplifying the process, and personalizing information, among other things, can help families navigate decisions about school choice. In this podcast, MDRC researcher Barbara Condliffe considers how lessons from other policy arenas can help improve school choice process.                 .


A sector-focused approach to job training can help low-income adults build skills for jobs in high-demand fields with opportunities for career growth. In this podcast, MDRC researcher Richard Hendra offers lessons from WorkAdvance, a skill-building program that works closely with employers to help job seekers prepare for and enter quality jobs.


Can small changes based on the insights of behavioral science improve the effectiveness of social programs? Join Therese Leung as she talks to three guests about MDRC’s work in behavioral science, especially its work with child support programs.


In this podcast, Therese Leung interviews three guests about the PACE Center for Girls in Florida, a juvenile justice prevention program that provides treatment and services with the needs of girls in mind, and MDRC’s ongoing evaluation of the intervention.


Are there services that can help young people aging out of the foster care and juvenile justice systems make a successful transition to adulthood? In this podcast, Therese Leung talks with Erin Valentine about MDRC’s evaluation of the successful YVLifeSet program from Youth Villages.


What’s worked to help disadvantaged youth get jobs? And how can we get more employers actively engaged in this issue?

Farhana Hossain recently coauthored a report, Toward a Better Future: Evidence on Improving Employment Outcomes for Disadvantaged Youth in the United States, that reviews labor market trends and research on employment-related programs for youth over the past 30 years. The Great Recession took a toll on the already dim economic prospects of low-income 16- to 24-year-olds who face structural barriers to employment. The evidence suggests that the involvement of employers in devising education, training, and work experiences that meet labor market demands should be a key component of any policy response.