As government statistics show that a growing number – 18 percent – of children in the United States live in poverty, the Obama Administration, legislators and government agencies are shifting policy and funding decisions to emphasize the importance of evidence-based approaches to provision of services for youth and families.
Using performance measurements to determine what works has been a keystone for high-performing youth development nonprofits that receive support from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. The foundation’s 2009 grantee retreat highlighted the nexus between these rigorous measurement practices and policymakers' search for evidence-based approaches to replicate nationally. The event was designed to prepare grantees, from Harlem Children’s Zone to Boys and Girls Club of America, to develop even stronger voices in public policy debates on education, youth employment, health and related issues.
The retreat was convened by RCLA and the Center for Applied Research, who serve as the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation’s partners on cross-portfolio leadership strategies. The collaboration includes an annual summer learning session and the fall retreat, which was moved from New York City to Washington, DC this year to capitalize on current efforts toward legislative reform.
Executive Director Bethany Godsoe noted, “It has become clear that this community of organizations and leaders has a unique opportunity to lead the field by providing insights into evidence-based approaches that can inform federal and state programs, policies and resource allocations to ensure that they are structured to deliver the best possible outcomes for America’s children.”
The day-long event featured a number of notable speakers. The morning began with Robert Gordon of the US Office of Management and Budget and Jim Shelton of the US Department of Education speaking on a panel called “Understanding Impact: How Much Evidence is Enough?”
This session was directly followed by thoughtful remarks from US Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) on current legislative challenges.
Other sessions included: