Breakout Sessions

Outsmarting Poverty Event Breakout Sessions

We are offering a variety of breakout sessions to allow all event attendees the opportunity to hear from subject-matter experts relevant to their work—and, more importantly, engage with fellow providers, researchers, funders and policy makers through an open Q&A session. Here are the speakers and topics we have lined up.

Breakout Session 1

A randomized control trial: Creating evidence to reduce hospital readmissions through in home support services

In a state plagued with some of the worst health outcomes for their residents, Catholic Charities West Virginia launched its Hospital Transition Program–a non-medical case management service offered to individuals previously deemed at high risk of re-entering the hospital system. The goal of this service is to improve health outcomes, while limiting costs associated with hospital readmission. Join as LEO and CCWVa discuss this randomized controlled trial (RCT) and what they hope to do with the findings of the study.

  • Presenters:
    Beth Munnich, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Louisville
    Mark Phillips, Chief Operating Officer, Catholic Charities West Virginia

A randomized control trial: Creating evidence to aid youth on building tech skills for the 21st century

Join researchers from LEO and the University of Colorado, Boulder and representatives from NPower–a service provider focused on providing youth and veterans with the IT skills necessary for a successful career in the industry–discuss what it means to participate in a randomized controlled trial (RCT). The goal of this presentation is to highlight the need for and evidence surrounding building technology skills in young adults, specifically to target upward mobility for disadvantaged youth. NPower’s Tech Fundamentals evaluation is a great example of a provider working in this space and an evaluation to contribute to the evidence that we would love to share with a broader audience.

  • Presenters:
    Brian Cadena, Associate Professor, University of Colorado Boulder
    Kim Mitchell, VP of Program Strategy, NPower
    Leah Cullum, Executive Director, Programs & Field Operations, NPower

If you build it, will they come? A case study on how one nonprofit grew their take-up rate

JoyBrand Creative is a marketing firm led by Laura Meyer; Laura and her team specialize in direct response marketing. Corner to Corner is one of LEO’s amazing nonprofit partners. They are committed to building evidence around the impact of The Academy, an entrepreneurial training program that teaches Black entrepreneurs how to plan, start, and grow their own small business. They are deeply connected to their community and creative when it comes to spreading the word about The Academy. But, they had a daunting task from their research team: in order for your project to have a large enough sample, you need to double your recruitment for each Cohort of The Academy. Whaaaaaat? Join us for a case study on an unlikely pairing: how the for-profit world (franchising and marketing) transformed a non-profit recruitment strategy in less than 16 weeks.

How providers and philanthropists can work together to improve outcomes for low income Americans

Friends of the Children is a national organization that works with vulnerable children (ages 4-6) and pairs them with a professional mentor who stays with them through high school graduation. They believe their 2Gen model, where Friends provide intentional support to both the child and the caregiver, is an effective foster care prevention strategy. They want to prove it by putting their program under the microscope to see if it really works. This was easier said than done—in addition to recruiting sites to participate in the research, they needed to solve for data collection. The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation believes in the power of evidence-building and came in as a powerful partner to support this research effort. Together, we can build evidence around the most effective ways to serve vulnerable children and families in our country and use that evidence to scale, replicate, and become a best practice.

The Transformative in-Prison Workgroup represents a statewide coalition of 85+ community-based organizations that offer trauma-informed, restorative/transformative healing programs in all of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) prisons. They’ve recently secured a major policy win to allow State dollars to flow towards more of these community-based organizations doing restorative in-prison work. Their goal: we need to build evidence around the amazing work these organizations are doing, prove that it is leading to better outcomes for incarcerated people, in order to change policy and create greater change. The Porticus Foundation is eager to support LEO and the Transformative in-Prison Workgroup in getting these community-based organizations ready for research and rigorous evaluation. Together, we can advocate for an expanded role of healing and transformative programs in California’s prisons.

Join an engaging discussion with these two philanthropy/provider pairings and learn how they come together to improve outcomes for low-income Americans.

  • Presenters:
    Erinn Kelley-Siel, Chief Officer of Expansion and Policy, Friends of the Children
    Sr. Jane Wakahiu, Associate Vice President of Program Operations and Head of Catholic Sisters, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
    Ginny Oshiro, Advocacy Co-Director, Transformative InPrison Workgroup
    Heather Reynolds, Michael L. Smith Managing Director, LEO
    Sandra van den Heuvel, Program Manager, Porticus Foundation

A randomized control trial: Creating evidence to improve math scores in a Texas school system

Over the past two years, LEO has partnered with Khan Academy and premier education researchers from across the US and Canada to develop and study comprehensive computer-assisted learning programs for elementary education. Join for this presentation as Dr. Phil Oreopoulos, University of Toronto, discusses the benefits and importance of tutoring, as well as its challenges; and outlines the Khollaboration with Khan Academy program which is designed to provide tutoring benefits at scale and for an affordable amount for all school districts.

  • Presenter:
    Phil Oreopoulos, Professor of Economics, University of Toronto

Science serving people: Research as a means to end poverty

You got into academics because you wanted to tackle big questions. And what bigger question to answer than how to end poverty? Join this academics-only presentation to hear from the two Notre Dame economists who channeled their vision to better understand and share effective poverty interventions into founding the nation's first domestic poverty lab, LEO. Learn more about how you can join a LEO project as a faculty affiliate, and specific upcoming opportunities to work with service provider partners to develop and launch research projects.

  • Presenters:
    Bill Evans, Co-founder and Professor of Economics, LEO
    Jim Sullivan, Co-founder and Professor of Economics, LEO

Breakout Session 2

The family gap: Raising kids in an age of impossibility

Melissa Kearney will give a presentation based on her forthcoming book The Family Gap: How Americans Stopped Getting Married and Started Falling Behind. This book draws on mounds of data and social science evidence to put a conversation about family and household structure at the center of our policy discussions around economic opportunity and class gaps. The share of US children growing up with the benefits of a two-parent household has declined sharply in the past 40 years, driven by changes in household structure among parents without a four-year college degree. There is now a large “family gap” between children of college-educated parents and everyone else. The shift away from the two-parent family among non-college educated parents reflects a reduction in marriage among these adults and the debundling of marriage from childbearing. The erosion of the two-parent family outside the college-educated class has exacerbated class gaps in childhood resources–and consequently, opportunities and outcomes. Improving the lives of our nation’s children and closing class gaps in children’s economic outcomes will require that we confront the critical role that family plays in shaping the trajectory of children’s lives, address the factors that have driven these seismic societal changes, and do much more to curtail the widening class divergence in childhood environments.

  • Presenter:
    Melissa Kearney, Professor of Economics, University of Maryland

Telling your story: How to differentiate yourself with the evidence you are building

So you’ve committed to research and launched your study…now what? How do you share this story with your audience most effectively? Mighty Good is a boutique branding agency for companies and organizations that define their success by the positive impact they make on the world. Telling your story is a crucial component for garnering the support you need to not only conduct research, but amplify its impact. Co-founded by three social impact branding experts, Mighty Good offers decades of experience helping organizations find an identity that is both authentic to who they are, and resonant with the people their success depends on. The people they need to purchase or click. To write or rage or rejoice. The people they need to realize the world they want. Join Mighty Good and learn how to strengthen your brand and make the most of your efforts through the power of storytelling.

Moving from evidence to action: A case study of the Goodwill Excel Center

LEO and Goodwill Excel Center partnered to discover if an accelerated adult learning program designed to help adult students earn their full Core-40 High School degrees within 2½ years was successful, and if so, what were the job market outcomes for graduates of the programs? Join this presentation to learn how LEO has partnered, and is continuing to partner, with the Goodwill Excel Center to advocate for evidence-based solutions to this problem, allowing this impactful intervention to be offered in new states across the country.

  • Presenters:
    Patrick Turner, Assistant Research Professor, LEO                                         
    Betsy Delgado, SVP, Chief Mission and Education Officer, Goodwill Excel Center

Funding a randomized control trial: Uplifting Parents

In 2017, LEO and Catholic Social Services (CSS) of Rapid City began conversations about how to conduct a randomized control trial on one of their services called Uplifting Parents—a program to empower single parents to achieve greater financial and socioeconomic stability for their families through the advancement of education and ultimately, their careers. However, prior to conversations with Bill Evans, CSS was not serving enough people through Uplifting Parents for a valid RCT to occur. With the strong desire to measure impact, CSS and LEO approached the John T. Vucurevich Foundation with a proposal for obtaining the funds necessary to serve more people through Uplifting Parents. Since their acceptance of the funding proposal, the Vucurevich Foundation has been a vital partner in the delivery of the Uplifting Parents program by providing funding, insights into the higher education landscape, and helping CSS and LEO form meaningful connections in the Rapid City area. Join as Bill Evans, LEO co-founder, and Jess Gromer, Vucurevich Foundation, talk about the importance of the relationship between CSS, LEO, and the Vucurevich Foundation, and how relationships like this could be replicated across the country with other service providers and foundation

  • Presenters:
    Jessica Gromer, Program Officer, John T. Vucurevich Foundation
    Bill Evans, Co-founder and Professor of Economics, LEO

A randomized control trial: Creating evidence to improve mental health outcomes for veterans

Join for a presentation on LEO’s work with the Recovery Resource Council (RRC) of North Texas. This service offers counseling sessions for veterans struggling with mental health. LEO is studying, through conducting a randomized control trial, the impact that offering financial assistance for completing sessions has on the retention rate currently seen by RRC–only 39% of RRC veteran clients complete 12 or more therapy sessions. The primary outcomes of interest are session attendance and completion rate. A secondary outcome is a crude mental health measure taken at the conclusion of each therapy session. Long term outcomes of interest include employment, earnings, health expenditures, interactions with law enforcement, and receipt of government benefit programs such as SNAP and TANF. RRC will provide data that details the amount of sessions which a client attends.

  • Presenters:
    Chris Cronin, Assistant Professor of Economics, Notre Dame
    Ethan Lieber, Assistant Professor of Economics, Notre Dame

A randomized control trial: Creating evidence to prevent homelessness

In 2022 LEO completed research for Santa Clara County on an emergency financial assistance pilot program offered in partnership with Destination: Home–an organization based in Silicon Valley who has a collective impact model, that incubates new ideas, advocates for policies, and funds impactful strategies that address the root causes of homelessness and help ensure that our most vulnerable neighbors have a stable home. Join for this presentation by LEO researcher(s) and a representative from Santa Clara County to learn about the goals of the research, the process of working together, the lessons learned along the way, and how LEO and Santa Clara County have since continued working together to share and use the results of the study.


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