Issue Focus

Top 10 MDRC Media Mentions in 2017


MDRC’s work can improve policy and practice only if influential people know about it and can easily use it. An important part of making sure that decision-makers hear about what we’ve learned is getting attention in the mainstream and trade press. Here are some of MDRC’s most prominent media mentions from 2017.

“Two Decades Later, Success for Man Who Imagined Turning His Life Around,” by Robert Siegel, NPR (April 2017)

“Over the past 30 years of doing this job, I’ve often wondered whatever happened to some of the people I met and interviewed, especially people who were at some precarious turning point in their lives and who spoke candidly with me about their hopes for the future. How did the future turn out? How did it turn out for Steven Mallory [a participant in MDRC’s Parents’ Fair Share demonstration], who was 22 years old when I last saw him in 1995?”

“Lessons for Improving School Choice from Other Policy Areas,” by MDRC’s Rekha Balu and Barbara Condliffe, Education Next (April 2017)

“[S]chool choice systems can be complex and confusing for low-income families, especially when they are contending with challenges ranging from unstable employment and housing to limited transportation. In the search for solutions, education researchers and policymakers may have overlooked lessons about systems of choice from other policy arenas. This issue focus suggests strategies for consideration from MDRC’s extensive experience designing and evaluating interventions to support low-income people’s decision making in arenas outside P-12 choice systems.”

ASAP Expands North and West,” by Ashley A. Smith, Inside Higher Ed (April 2017)

“The City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, or ASAP, has been widely praised for turning out promising results and doubling graduation rates. That’s why more than a few community colleges are interested in bringing it to their campuses….CUNY requires participating students to enroll full time and to take developmental courses immediately and continuously. The goal of the program is to double graduation rates. ASAP nearly did just that at CUNYafter three years, 40 percent of ASAP students graduated compared to 22 percent of control group students, according to MDRC, a nonprofit research organization.”

“Social Progress’s True Metric: Compared to What?” by MDRC’s William Corrin and John Martinez, Stanford Social Innovation Review (April 2017)

“Evaluation should be a way to engage in ongoing learning and continuous feedback. To be really helpful, this feedback must be grounded in an interpretation of data that is contextualized by comparisons. In other words, nonprofits need to know what they’re being compared to, what their results really mean based on those comparisons, and how to use that information to make the organization better. It’s a vital line of inquiry, but the answers aren’t always as clear as they might seem at first glance.”

“As Store Layoffs Mount, Retail Lags Other Sectors in Retraining Workers,” by Yuki Noguchi, NPR (May 2017)

“There are myriad challenges to retraining in retail. Frieda Molina, a deputy director at MDRC, a social research group, says many retail workers simply don’t want to stay in the industry. ‘It’s hard to make that case to them, given the more negative reputation of retail, and the fact that many people at that lower level don’t have the resources to be able to invest time and effort and lost wages potentially, in getting additional training,’ she says.”

“Reading Partners Boosts Literacy Among Poor Kids Nationwide,” by Kate Stringer, The 74 (May 2017)

“Only 20 percent of the nation’s low-income fourth-graders were reading at grade level in 2013, while nearly half of their wealthier peers were, according to The Annie E. Casey Foundation. But Reading Partners has been shown to improve literacy in low-income elementary students: in fluency, reading comprehension, and sight word efficacy. This 2015 MDRC research, which looked at 1,200 students in 19 schools, found that Reading Partners was a low-cost option for schools, which pay for 20 percent of the cost, or $710 per student, as compared with other literacy programs that cost $1,700 per pupil.”

“Winning the Lottery: Enrolling in Success Academy Produces Math Gains for Students, New Study Shows,” by Monica Disare, Chalkbeat (August 2017)

“Enrolling in Success Academy boosted test scores for some of its earliest students, according to a new study conducted by research firm MDRC. The analysis, funded by Success as part of a federal grant, found that the network’s third- and fourth-graders showed about a year to a year and a half of additional learning in math compared to similar students who also applied to the school, but lost the lottery. In reading, the gains are ‘positive,’ though researchers caution they would need a larger sample to make a more definitive statement. ‘The enrollment effects in math put Success Academy towards the top of what’s been estimated for charter schools,’ said Rebecca Unterman, the author of the report.”

“The Life-and-Death Consequences of Summer Jobs Programs,” by Debra Bruno, Politico Magazine (September 2017)

“In other cities, says Erin Valentine of MDRC, a New York social policy research nonprofit, funding for summer jobs programs varies from year to year. It’s often not until the spring that a city council finds money for jobs. ‘Suddenly, some other stream of funding would come in and there would be 10,000 more slots,’  which then makes it hard to match jobs with student interests.”

“This Simple Tax Policy Change Could Boost The Cash, Credit, And Well-Being Of The Working Poor,” by Ben Schiller, Fast Company (October 2017)

MDRC…recently announced the results from the first two years [of the Paycheck Plus demonstration] in New York, and it says the impact was largely positive. After-bonus incomes went up (that is, above the amount people get in EITC) and work rates increased by 3.5% in the first year (compared to a control group). Moreover, there’s no evidence the program was a disincentive to work. That’s despite the oft-repeated idea that giving people government money naturally leads them to be lazy.”

“Nonprofits Give ‘Disconnected’ Youths Another Chance,” by Alina Tugend, New York Times (November 2017)

“Youth Villages helps emotionally and behaviorally troubled children succeed by working with them and their families; YVLifeset, a part of Youth Villages, is aimed at people 17 to 22 years old. It is an intensive six- to 12-month program to support, guide and encourage participants, most of whom grew up in the foster care system…A five-year independent study by MDRC, a research organization, found that compared with a randomly selected control group, YVLifeset participants show decreases in homelessness and violent relationships and increases in earnings.”