Issue Focus

Top 15 MDRC Publications in 2021

December 2021

In 2021, MDRC posted nearly 100 reports, briefs, practitioner guides, and other publications—offering evaluation results, profiles of innovative programs, and evidence-backed advice for policymakers and practitioners. Here are 15 of the most popular.

Overhead view of a city

Implementing Creating Moves to Opportunity, by Jonathan Bigelow [January 2021]

Creating Moves to Opportunity greatly increased the number of families with young children leasing in areas with high upward income mobility in the Seattle area. It offered education, coaching, housing search assistance, landlord engagement, and financial supports to Housing Choice Voucher program applicants. This report offers lessons about implementing the model.

Graduating students in caps and gowns

Increasing Community College Graduation Rates: A Synthesis of Findings on the ASAP Model from Six Colleges Across Two States, by Cynthia Miller and Michael Weiss [February 2021]

This paper presents new estimates of the effects of the City University of New York (CUNY) Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) model, evaluated first in New York and later in Ohio. It shows long-term effects in New York on degrees earned and consistent effects in both states.

Scales of justice in a courtroom

Civil Contempt of Court for Child Support Noncompliance at the PJAC Demonstration Sites, by Louisa Treskon and Melanie Skemer [February 2021]

The Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) project integrates procedural justice (the idea of fairness in processes) into enforcement at six child support agencies. This brief explains which parents these agencies refer to civil contempt for not paying child support and describes the business-as-usual contempt proceedings.

Couple looking at documents

Motor City Momentum: Three Years of the Detroit Promise Path Program for Community College Students, by Alyssa Ratledge, Colleen Sommo, Dan Cullinan, Rebekah O’Donoghue, Marco Lepe, and Jasmina Camo-Biogradlija [March 2021]

This program combines a tuition-free scholarship with additional forms of support, such as a campus coach and personalized communications, to keep students on track to graduate. A three-year evaluation shows that the program helped students stay enrolled in school and earn more credits but had no impact on degrees earned.

Construction workers discussing plans

Connecting Parents to Occupational Training: A Partnership Between Child Support Agencies and Local Service Providers, by Kyla Wasserman, Lily Freedman, Zaina Rodney, and Caroline Schultz [April 2021]

The Families Forward Demonstration examined strategies to help parents with low and middle incomes make reliable child support payments by increasing employment and earnings. The model, which emphasized free occupational training activities, shows promise for helping parents qualify for jobs in their chosen fields and for improving child support compliance.

Diverse group in an office meeting

Guiding Questions for Supporting Culturally Responsive Evaluation Practices and an Equity-Based Perspective, by Oscar Cerna, Barbara Condliffe, and Ashley Wilson [June 2021]

MDRC’s Equity Collaborative has developed a set of guiding questions to help researchers incorporate culturally responsive practices and an equity-based perspective in all stages of an evaluation or technical assistance project.

Woman hugging three children

Educational Equity: Solutions Through Social and Emotional Well-Being, by Jean Grossman, Susan Sepanik, Ximena Portilla, and Kevin Thaddeus Brown, Jr. [July 2021]

This is the first in a series of briefs highlighting strategies to increase educational equity by addressing students’ social and emotional needs. It describes how environmental and structural factors cause disparities in social and emotional well-being that affect learning, then lays out three levels of change to address this inequity.

People standing in line

Approaches and Methods for Assessing and Remedying Barriers, Burden, and Inequities in Public Service Delivery and Access, by Rekha Balu [July 2021]

This paper, submitted in response to a request for information from the federal Office of Management and Budget, offers practical advice about assessing and reducing inequities in public service programs from MDRC’s experience partnering with federal, state, and local agencies.

Illustration of business people around a table at a meeting

Unpacking Data Use in State TANF Agencies: Insights from the TANF Data Innovation Needs Assessment, by Robert M. Goerge, Emily R. Wiegand, and Leah Gjertson [August 2021]

This brief summarizes results from an assessment of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs in 54 U.S. states and territories and their ability to analyze data used for program improvement, monitoring, and evidence building. The assessment provides a foundation for technical assistance and continued improvement for the TANF program.

Person pointing to graph on computer screen in a business meeting

A Guide for Using Administrative Data to Examine Long-Term Outcomes in Program Evaluation, by Jonathan Bigelow, Alexandra Pennington, Kelsey Schaberg, and Deondre’ Jones [August 2021]

Evaluations of many social programs have not had access to the resources needed for measuring their long-term outcomes. This guide from MDRC’s Center for Data Insights was developed to help researchers assess the feasibility and potential value of using administrative data to examine long-term program outcomes and describes steps for linking those data with evaluation data.

Man wearing face mask riding a bus

Paving the Way Home: An Evaluation of the Returning Citizens Stimulus Program, by Ivonne Garcia, Margaret Hennessy, Erin Jacobs Valentine, Jedediah Teres, and Rachel Sander [September 2021]

In April 2020, the Center for Employment Opportunities launched the Returning Citizens Stimulus (RCS), a cash transfer program that offered financial support to people released from prison or jail. The findings in this report suggest that RCS may provide a promising model for smoothing reentry from incarceration.

Graduation cap, rolled diploma, and book

Improving College Graduation Rates with Multifaceted Student Support Programs: Here’s What Institutions and State Agencies Need to Know, by Alyssa Ratledge and Melissa Wavelet [September 2021]

This brief by Alyssa Ratledge and Melissa Wavelet summarizes the evidence from studies of multifaceted support programs aimed at boosting college graduation rates. It examines what works and the state and institutional factors necessary for successful implementation, and offers advice on how to balance fidelity with local needs while measuring and ensuring positive impacts.

Father and child crossing the street together

Testing Innovations in Fatherhood Programs: A Roundup of Findings from the Building Bridges and Bonds Study, by Dina Israel, Michelle Manno, and Leah Jacobson [September 2021]

The Building Bridges and Bonds (B3) study tested innovative, interactive, skill-building approaches to address parenting and economic stability in the context of existing fatherhood programs. This brief highlights findings from the three tests and summarizes lessons from the B3 study experience common to all the tested interventions.

Student in Chuck Taylors standing next to backpack

Evidence to Action: A Policy Perspective from Three States, by Dominique Dukes [November 2021]

This brief, produced with the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, offers promising strategies to address the barriers that state-level postsecondary leaders have observed inhibit evidence-based policy making in higher education.

Young children in class raising their hands

Long-Term Effects of Enhanced Early Childhood Math Instruction: The Impacts of Making Pre-K Count and High 5s on Third-Grade Outcomes, by Shira Mattera, Robin Tepper Jacob, Cullen MacDowell, and Pamela Morris [December 2021]

Children who received two years of early math enrichment in New York City had improved math test scores in third grade. The size of the effect is equivalent to closing about 40 percent of the achievement gap between children from families with low incomes and their peers from families with higher incomes.