Calling Poverty's Fiercest Adversaries

Author: Missi Cowart, LEO project development associate

All across Texas there are families struggling to make ends meet. Social service providers in the government and non-profit sectors work tirelessly to meet the emergency needs of families in poverty and run innovative programs that go beyond addressing crisis to focusing on long term solutions.

Over the last 10 years, LEO has partnered with 16 agencies across the Lone Star state to evaluate and demonstrate the impact of their programs. The purpose of these partnerships is to identify and build evidence around solutions focused on permanent exits from poverty. Ultimately, the goal is to scale successful programs and practices and reprioritize funding towards programs that are proven to work.

We’re excited to launch a new cohort of research projects in North Texas! Our goal is to have a dozen providers in the North Texas region join us in our fight to end poverty in 2024. We’re so looking forward to deepening our relationships in Texas, shining a light on the great work happening there, and proving up even more impactful interventions. If you’re interested in learning more about this cohort and partnering, please reach out to Missi Cowart at

Here’s a look at what we’re currently doing in Texas…



Partner: Catholic Charities Fort Worth, Tarrant County College
Program: Stay the Course
Impact: Increases persistence in and completion of degrees especially for women; The program is cost-beneficial after around 4 years post-completion.

Stay the Course (STC) offers case management services provided by a social service agency. Each STC student is paired with a trained social worker, called a Navigator, who offers students coaching, mentoring, and referral services. Navigators work with students to help them overcome their individual barriers to college completion and help them receive access to limited emergency financial assistance that can be used for non-academic expenses.

Partner: Khan Academy, Arlington Independent School District
Program: Khollaboration with Khan Academy (KWIK)
Impact: Results available in 2023

The KWiK program aims to increase student engagement with Khan Academy to provide students with a greater personalized learning experience, allowing students to receive more immediate feedback, progress at their own pace, and focus on mastering course material. The study will be implemented in the Arlington Independent School District (AISD).

Partner: Goodwill Excel Center - Austin
Program: Excel Center Adult High School Diploma - Austin
Impact: Results available in 2023

This intervention focuses on changing behaviors that inhibit students from graduating high school, in hopes that these modifications will carry on after high school and increase future postsecondary and professional success. The first program is a text message system that will send weekly reminders to students of a set of goals determined by students and their life coaches at the beginning of the term. The second program is services with a new college and career readiness coach, which is paired with the text message reminders.

Partner: NPower Inc.
Program: Tech Fundamentals
Impact: Results available in 2026

NPower Inc. works with opportunity youth and veterans and their spouses to create career pathways into the information technology industry through training and job placement. NPower students participate in a 16-week, tuition-free Tech Fundamentals course that targets industry-recognized certification, participate in a 7-week paid internship, and receive job placement assistance upon graduation to find full-time employment in an information technology career.


Partner: Helping Restore Ability (HRA)
Program: Training Incentives
Impact: Financial incentives increase the number of caregivers who both start and complete relevant online training, incentives are effective for caregivers with a range of characteristics and though awareness of training availability was limited, financial incentives were very effective for those who were aware.

HRA provides the disabled with in-home attendant care services. By helping the disabled avoid institutional care, the program promotes dignity and an independent lifestyle. HRA’s training module will encourage caregivers to participate in two courses: Abuse and Neglect for Health Care Paraprofessionals, teaching caregivers to recognize the signs of abuse, neglect, and vulnerability and know when and how to report it to prevent further injury; Basic Infection Prevention and Control for the Paraprofessional, teaching caregivers how to prevent/control infections and use common-sense work habits.

Partner: Recovery Resource Council (RRC) of North Texas
Program: Veterans Therapy Incentives
Impact: Results available in 2026

RRC offers counseling sessions for veterans who struggle with mental health issues such as PTSD and severe depression. While the impact of completing therapy is sizable, the program retention rate is low. RRC aims to increase the total number of sessions attended and boost the completion rate. In order to do this, the RRC will offer financial incentives of $500 to every client who completes a group of 6 counseling sessions, for up to 18 sessions and $1500.


Partner: South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH)
Program: Homelessness Risk Assessment Tool
Impact: Results available in 2026

Together with LEO, SARAH developed a simplified and equitable assessment tool to connect people experiencing homelessness to appropriate housing options and assistance, as an alternative to the current protocol used in SARAH’s Homeless Management Information System.

Partner: In Her Shoes
Program: Maternity Home
Impact: Results available in 2030

In Her Shoes provides a secure and stable home for expecting mothers otherwise experiencing homelessness, as well as wrap-around support, including access to prenatal care, social support, mental health treatment, life skills and employment training, support towards goal achievement, and parenting classes.

Partner: Harris County
Program: Emergency Rental Assistance
Impact: Results will be available in 2023

The goal of the program is to provide relief in the form of rent and utilities assistance to families who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Each approved household received a one-time payment of $1,500. The money could be used for any emergency expenses including: healthcare, rent or mortgage, utilities, food, internet, transportation, childcare, and other past due expenses.


Partner: Lubbock County Detention Center
Program: STEP UP
Impact: Preliminary results will be available in 2023; Full study results due 2026

Lubbock County Detention Center operates the “Step-Up” program within their jail. Using a foundation of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, this program works with individuals through a curriculum that aims to reduce acts of violence and make substantive changes to a person’s behavior.


Partner: Catholic Charities Fort Worth
Program: Padua
Impact: Pilot results show Padua clients are more likely to be employed full-time, have higher earnings, lower usage of government benefits, higher self-reported health and higher housing stability.

This innovative program includes case management, individualized assessments and service plans, small caseloads, and financial support.

Partner: Catholic Charities Dallas
Program: Financial Literacy Coaching
Impact: Results will be available in 2024

Financial Support and Career Services (FSCS) coaches aim to help clients with all elements of their personal & financial goals, including rental assistance, skills development, savings, and debt reduction, among others.

Partner: Sparrow Mobile, Refugee Services of Texas (RST)
Program: Refugee Mobile
Impact: Refugees are more likely to own smartphones, have access to the internet, more likely to read and converse “very well” in English, more likely to interact with people from other cultures and less likely to utilize a case manager in person (choosing via phone instead).

Refugee Services of Texas (RST) collaborated with Sparrow Mobile (Sparrow) to pilot RefugeeMobile. Refugees in the program received a smartphone from Sparrow that included six months of free basic services (call, text, data) plus select apps that should allow the refugees easier transition into their new community with translation, navigation, transportation, and banking assistance.

Partner: Combined Arms (CA) in Houston
Program: Veterans Intake Team
Impact: Results will be available in 2024

With the second largest population of veterans in the United States, Texas houses a variety of services and support organizations available to address veteran needs; however, barriers to service take-up remain for various reasons including stigmas surrounding service use and lack of knowledge of what help is available. Combined Arms offers all veterans in the area a potential point of connection between veteran and veteran assistance services to overcome these barriers to access.

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