2021 LEO Year in Review

Author: Staff

Pocket Watch Dangling Above Sidewalk

The clock never stops, as those struggling with poverty know all too well. The rent due date always looms. The punch clock keeps ticking whether or not the car starts or the babysitter quits. Mental health challenges never take holidays.

That’s why the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) and its social service sector partners and faculty affiliates continue to put in long hours to figure out “what works” to lift people out of poverty.


2021 yielded progress on a number of new and promising projects in LEO’s core focus areas and emerging issues.


On the policy front, LEO's work was highlighted on the national stage several times through congressional testimony and policy proposals.

  • Drawing on work by Sullivan and LEO faculty affiliate Bruce Meyer, a federal group formed by the Chief Statistician of the United States submitted recommendations on how to measure poverty in order to give a more accurate picture of America.
  • The Institute for College Access & Success unveiled a new national policy proposal aimed at unlocking potential for college students across the country that was based in part on evidence and analysis generated by LEO.


On the academy side, LEO research appeared in a number of journals and outlets.


LEO faculty and faculty affiliates published important op-ed pieces this year. 

Journalists also regularly turned to LEO experts and studies for insights on the latest headlines. 

  • The ongoing real-time poverty estimate work by Jim Sullivan and Bruce Meyer was featured in outlets including The New York Times, Washington Post, Marketplace, Politico, Fortune and Bloomberg.
  • Sullivan was also interviewed by CNBC and the BBC about the launch of expanded child tax credit payments.
  • A LEO study on a program aimed at keeping low-income students on track in college was featured in a Dallas Morning News story. homelessness prevention were featured in a Washington Post article on homelessness and eviction during the pandemic and a Bloomberg piece on childhood poverty featured LEO research.

What’s next

In 2022, LEO is set to travel back to Atlanta for part two of the cohort research design process and will head across the country to kick off a homelessness-focused cohort in Seattle. By June 2022, it is on track to reach 96 projects—up from 31 projects  in June 2019.  And, September 2022 will mark 10 years since LEO became the first domestic poverty lab in the country focused on conducting randomized controlled trials. 

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