Forming the Future

Developing the next generation of change-makers and poverty researchers has always been a core part of the LEO model. The undergraduate Notre Dame students who work with us are able to see every step of the process for unleashing effective poverty interventions.

The journey starts with our project development interns, who help us identify new and innovative programs across the country to be potential LEO partners.

Then it moves to our research design interns, who work alongside our team directly with partner organizations to develop their ideas into a meaningful research project.

Pretty soon, the research design interns are handing off the baton to the research operations team, who gets to put those designs into action and watch them transform into an active project. Interns at this stage offer many different types of support as they help the research team implement the project, analyze data, and even write research reports.

Once the research is complete, it gets shared with the policy and impact team, where interns at Notre Dame and in Washington D.C. are able to help us spread the word about scalable and effective interventions.

Of course, all along this process our business operations and marketing interns have been helping LEO communicate our work, create content, and manage the events which make our research possible.

Perhaps what is most unique about the LEO intern experience is the interaction that each of these interns, across every different team, will have with providers. Our partners are at the center of this journey the whole time. Working with them helps LEO interns gain real world insights into the struggles people are facing. Data points quickly move off of the screen and transform into real providers and people.

This summer, one of our LEO interns will be working on the ground at the Ray Marshall Center in Austin, Texas. This research facility was established in Texas to support the research of pressing social and economic problems facing American workers, and their projects aim to identify and foster creative solutions to poverty through applied research. They are a perfect match for LEO.

LEO is currently conducting seven different studies across Texas on self-sufficiency, and our relationship with the Ray Marshall Center has been key to making it possible. Through the Ray Marshall Center, LEO is able to connect our efforts with state data resources and estimate the longer-term effects of programs on outcomes such as earnings and employment. Partnerships like these are critical to LEO’s work, and they are another important stage of the poverty fighting world for LEO’s interns to be exposed to.

Greg Cumpton, the Co-Director for the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources, will act as the overseeing supervisor for the LEO intern in Austin this summer. He shared that, “Our LEO intern will work closely with myself and Research Associate Thomas Boswell on multiple LEO partnership projects. This work will involve quantitative analysis and probabilistic matching linking several datasets.”

Some of the projects which LEO has partnered with the Ray Marshall Center on include NPower, the Goodwill Excel Center in Austin,  the Padua program, and South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH) study. Greg added, “We’re incredibly excited to serve as a host organization and to share our knowledge and experience in engaging in meaningful, policy-relevant research into the challenges and solutions of those experiencing poverty.”

LEO’s in-person internship with the Ray Marshall Center this summer offers yet another chance for undergraduate students to see their studies in action. Our intern will deeply get to know multiple projects in the Austin area, including both the data and non-profit partner experiences which go along with them.

As interns for LEO, the assumptions we make about poverty are challenged, but empathy is built in the process. Those of us that are future poverty researchers get a chance to understand what is feasible from the provider side. Those of us that are future nonprofit leaders get a chance to understand what qualities economic researchers are looking for in programs. But we all grow in practical understanding and — at least for myself — hope in how we can improve the fight against poverty.

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