State and local governments invited to apply for support to develop rigorous evaluations

MIT News

J-PAL North America, a research center in the Department of Economics, has announced the fourth round of its State and Local Innovation Initiative, which supports state and local governments in using rigorous evaluation to answer critical questions about what works to reduce poverty.

State and local leaders across the United States are actively experimenting with new approaches to better serve their constituents. Increasingly, they are looking to data and evidence to inform their decision-making.   

Through J-PAL North America’s State and Local Innovation Initiative, state and local governments can apply for support in using randomized evaluations to better understand the impact of policies and programs in their jurisdictions. Selected partners receive pro bono technical support from J-PAL North America staff, flexible project funding, and connections with J-PAL’s network of leading academic researchers.

Since the initiative’s launch in 2015, J-PAL North America and affiliated researchers have partnered with 12 state and local governments. J-PAL North America’s selected partners are united in their commitment to generating rigorous evidence to inform their policy decisions and ultimately improve people’s lives. 

The City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Office, one of the initiative’s first selected partners, has worked with J-PAL North America and researcher Sara Heller to evaluate the city’s WorkReady Program, a summer jobs program that offers educationally enriched work opportunities to in-school and out of school youth ages 12-24. Through this ongoing evaluation, the city hopes to learn how summer jobs impact students’ academic achievement, future employment, and other social outcomes like substance abuse and rates of teen pregnancy. 

“Paid summer jobs for young people play an especially important role in providing early work experiences for teenagers and young adults who would not otherwise have them,” explains Anjali Chainani, director of policy for the City of Philadelphia. “We want to ensure youth most in need are benefiting by earning immediate …

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