LEO earns $700,000 in funding awards to support continued anti-poverty work.

Author: Rachel Fulcher-Dawson

The Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) at the University of Notre Dame has received multiple funding awards totaling nearly $700,000 this summer to continue its work reducing poverty and improving lives through evidence-based programs and policies.

“We are excited about and thankful for the support from these funders,” said Jim Sullivan, cofounder of LEO and the Rev. Thomas J. McDonagh, C.S.C., Associate Professor of Economics. “This will allow us to continue to create evidence that supports programs doing innovative work to serve the poor.”

LEO, a research lab housed in Notre Dame’s Department of Economics, has received $129,000 from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to support its efforts to rigorously measure the impact of an innovative program, Stay the Course, which utilizes specialized case management to support persistence and completion among low-income community college students.

LEO also received $540,000 from J-PAL North America, a regional office of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to support work on several initiatives through the J-PAL State and Local Innovation Initiative. In Rochester, New York, LEO is working with the City of Rochester and several community agencies to evaluate the impact of a professional mentoring program, Bridges to Success, on the low-income clients it is designed to move permanently out of poverty.

LEO and J-PAL have worked with the city and partners to embed a randomized control trial (RCT) evaluation in order to most accurately measure and demonstrate cause and effect of the program on the client’s outcomes, such as income, employment and self-sufficiency.

LEO is also partnering with two governments that were selected by J-PAL North America through the same J-PAL State and Local Innovation Initiative.  In King County, Washington, LEO is partnering with county officials to plan the evaluations of both a youth homelessness initiative as well as a diversion program for low-risk offenders.

In Santa Clara County, researchers will evaluate the county’s rapid rehousing program that aims to prevent homelessness and the ill effects of homelessness by providing immediate housing and support to at-risk populations. LEO and J-PAL will support the efforts of the county to measure the impact of the program and the cost effectiveness by conducting an RCT evaluation.