Outsmarting poverty starts with working smarter

All across America, service providers are doing great work to take on poverty in all its complexity. But we still know too little about what’s working and why.

Notre Dame’s Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) helps service providers apply scientific evaluation methods to better understand and share effective poverty interventions.

At LEO, we believe rigorous research is a powerful means to an end. An end to injustice. An end to dependence. An end to poverty. And a new beginning for millions of families who are ready to thrive.

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Creating Evidence

by partnering with poverty's fiercest adversaries to learn what works.

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Notre Dame launches unprecedented University-wide effort to fight poverty

Led by economist Jim Sullivan, the Notre Dame Poverty Initiative will establish the University as a leading institution for poverty research, prepare students for careers and service in antipoverty efforts, and turn evidence into action, illuminating proven pathways out of poverty for people around the world.

Targeted prevention helps stop homelessness before it starts

"David Phillips, a research professor in the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) within Notre Dame’s economics department, and James Sullivan, a professor of economics and co-founder of LEO, found that people offered EFA were 81 percent less likely to become homeless within six months of enrollment and 73 percent less likely within 12 months, as reported in their study recently published by The Review of Economics and Statistics."

First Study Of Its Kind Shows Financial Aid Can Prevent Homelessness

But recently, economists have been using them, when possible, to test the effectiveness of policies and interventions like emergency financial assistance which many worried didn't work to prevent homelessness. "There really was not a rigorous response to that concern," said James Sullivan, University of Notre Dame professor of economics and co-founder of the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities, which aims to help the most vulnerable with its work. "This really addresses that concern head on."

Using Evidence

to turn research into action to lift people out of poverty.

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Fighting to Prevent Homelessness

Catholic Charities Chicago runs the city's Homelessness Prevention Call Center and has helped thousands of families stay off the streets. But Catholic Charities knows funding for public programs is never guaranteed, so it wanted to prove its method was cost-effective and impactful.