Why Partner with LEO?
Social service providers work most closely with people in-need and are constantly inventing or improving programs to best serve clients. The key to reducing poverty is to bring these programs to scale throughout the nation. The best vehicle for encouraging this is convincing evidence of program effectiveness. LEO's goal is to identify these innovative programs, measure the impact they have on clients, and export the most successful programs to other communities.
Program evaluations help service providers identify their most effective programs and demonstrate their impact. Concrete evidence of program impact is critical for securing support from donors, foundations, and government agencies. By identifying both the strengths and weaknesses of a program, evaluations also help service providers improve program design. For a program shown to be effective, scalable, and replicable, evaluation widens the impact it can have on reducing poverty nationwide.
What is LEO Looking For?
Certain programs lend themselves to evaluation more easily than others. When thinking about which of your programs might be a good fit for LEO, keep in mind the following factors that characterize strong candidates for evaluation:
- Clearly Defined/Measurable Outcomes - In order to evaluate a program's effectiveness, LEO must be able to clearly define a measurable outcome. For example, for a program that offers services to families on the verge of homelessness, a measurable outcome would be whether or not a family's chances of falling into homelessness are reduced as a result of receiving services.
- Excess Demand for Services - Unfortunately, resource contraints often keep agencies from providing services to everyone in need. An important consequence of excess demand is the creation of a comparison group of people who did not receive services. LEO can help service agencies turn this into an opportunity for evaluation by measuring differences in outcomes for the group of clients that received services as compared to the group that did not. The key to a rigorous evaluation is having data for all applicants, not just those who receive services. For example, if applicants are chosen by lottery and those who are not chosen are placed on a waiting list, it is important to have information about both the applicants who won the lottery and those placed on the waiting list.
- Sufficient Sample Size - In general, larger programs are a better fit for impact evaluations. In order to detect meaningful differences in outcomes for those who received services as compared to those who did not, there must be a sufficient sample size. The needed sample size will vary from project to project, depending on what outcomes we are trying to measure. Keep in mind that even if your program only serves a small number of clients at any one point in time, the program may be large enough for an impact evaluation if the cumulative number of clients served over an extended period of time is sufficiently large.
- Scalability/Replicability - LEO is looking to evaluate programs that have the potential to be replicated by other service providers and/or scaled up on a national level. When thinking about your programs, consider whether/how someone else might be able to successfully reproduce your program with the same results.
How do I Get Involved?
LEO’s ability to find research driven poverty solutions and to advocate for policies that truly serve those most in need relies on the willingness of local agencies to partner with us. If you have an innovative program that you believe helps move individuals and families out of poverty, please consider submitting a “Proposal for Evaluation Partnerships.” Fill out the short Proposal Form here.
If you would like more information on the lab or have questions about how to get involved, please contact us at email@example.com.