Institute on Assets and Social Policy

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Evaluation and Technical Assistance

Community-based programs have been effective over the years in stabilizing the lives of vulnerable individuals and families. These organizations increasingly recognize the importance of programs targeting asset building as part of a longer-term approach to addressing poverty. Engaging in the development of pilot programs and evaluations of program effectiveness aid in the growth of innovative new approaches to asset building.

Through evaluation, applied research, and technical assistance, the Institute promotes the capacities, resources, and leadership of community-based programs and nonprofit partnerships that seek to advance asset formation services. IASP's efforts assist programs in scaling up these efforts across communities, states, and regions. The Institute's recent partners and projects include:

Compass Working Capital’s Financial Stability and Savings Program

Compass Working Capital  is a nonprofit financial services organization that provides incentive-based savings and financial coaching programs that empower working, low-income families to build assets, achieve their financial goals, and become financially secure.  Compass was selected for funding by Strategic Grant Partners of Boston, MA, to implement an experimental asset-building approach to the HUD Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program for recipients of housing vouchers in Lynn, MA.

IASP developed and implemented the process and outcome evaluations and the preliminary cost/benefit analysis for this pilot FSS program.  This three-year evaluation focused on how families use this opportunity to move toward economic stability, positive impacts sustained after program graduation, and the cost-effectiveness of taking the program to scale.

"IASP has been an invaluable partner throughout the course of the Savings Program Pilot, helping us build on lessons learned from the challenges we have faced. Together we are finding new ways to measure progress and achieve success in helping participants become more self-sufficient and economically secure." –Compass Working Capital.

The Compass' Family Self-Sufficiency program has changed the lives of many:

For more information about this program or similar evaluations, please contact Sandra Venner at (781) 736-8688

John T. Gorman Foundation Supports Pilot for Enhanced Family Self-Sufficiency Program at Bangor Housing Authority 

Seeking new ways to further its work with low-income families, Bangor Housing Authority (BHA) in Maine is interested in developing a potentially higher impact model for their existing HUD Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, with a focus on helping families overcome barriers to work, improve their financial stability, and build assets.  

To aid in this development, the John T. Gorman Foundation of Portland, ME, engaged IASP to conduct an assessment to illuminate the successes and challenges of the existing FSS model at BHA, as well as document and assess the pathways for success and barriers to achieving economic security for families.  The assessment findings and data will guide the design and implementation of a new FSS program initiative provided by BHA and potentially will serve as a model for further FSS program development by other public housing authorities throughout Maine. 

The assessment included a survey and interviews to answer questions regarding: 1) subsidized housing residents' aspirations and needs, as well as barriers to work and economic advancement; and 2) FSS participant goals and motivations for enrolling in the program and recommendations for improving the current FSS program.  Preliminary findings from the assessment were presented to the funder and the housing authority along with other key organizations that can be instrumental in future program design and implementation.  The report shares assessment findings and recommendations for how the FSS program in Bangor can more effectively deliver consistently strong outcomes and ensure families receiving housing assistance use the opportunity to advance on a pathway toward economic security.  Click here to view the report.

The BHA Enhanced FSS Program Process and Implementation Report, the first of the series, describes how the project evolved, critical steps taken to launch the program, issues encountered, and early experiences of the first enrolled participants.  

For more information about this program or similar evaluations, please contact Sandra Venner at (781) 736-8688.

Paul & Phyllis Fireman Foundation Process Evaluation of the Massachusetts Secure Jobs Pilot

The Paul and Phyllis Fireman Foundation is a family foundation based in Boston, Massachusetts. It is dedicated to ending family homelessness in the Commonwealth and beyond.  IASP was selected to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the Secure Jobs Initiative, focusing on the implementation of this pilot and short-term participant outcomes.  Data sources include stakeholder interviews; program observations; program-related documents (training curricula, assessment forms, etc.); monthly survey data on program implementation; and quantitative data on the entire participant population including both demographics and detailed income and employment information.  IASP's report, "Secure Jobs, Secure Homes, Secure Families Process Evaluation of the Massachusetts Secure Jobs Pilot" focuses on the findings related to program implementation during the first nine months of the pilot.  A second report released in December 2014, Secure Jobs, Secure Homes, Secure Families: Phase One Outcomes of the Massachusetts Secure Jobs Pilot, summarizes short-term employment and housing outcomes for Secure Jobs Phase One participants as well as participant, employer, trainer, and staff assessments of this new initiative.

For more information about this program or similar evaluations please contact Tatjana Meschede at (781) 736-8678.

Massachusetts Association for Community Action, Inc. (MASSCAP)

IASP teamed up with MASSCAP to expand asset formation opportunities for low-income families across Massachusetts. The MASSCAP Asset Formation Initiative’s strategy is to expand free tax preparation assistance, financial literacy education, and other asset formation services for low-income people through its statewide network of community action agencies and other partners. The Institute provided training for agency staff and designed and implemented assessment processes at ten pilot sites.  Lessons learned from these assessments will aid MASSCAP in scaling up and replicating successful asset formation practices in the 24 community action agencies across the state. (See the most recent report, VITA – More than Tax Prep, July 2010.)

"IASP’s assessment efforts and staff training helped us identify best practices and obstacles facing CAAs when integrating asset-building services into financial literacy programs–as well as the most successful models for delivering services and gaining positive reception from clients as we take these programs to scale."-MASSCAP

For more information about this program or similar evaluations, please contact Sandra Venner at (781) 736-8688.

Partnership for College Completion

IASP and the Heller School’s Center for Youth and Communities are conducting a process evaluation and providing recommendations for a long-term evaluation of the Partnership for College Completion Pilot Initiative, an effort to increase college attendance and graduation rates among low-income and minority youth. Jointly sponsored by United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), and KIPP Charter Schools, the pilot initiative combines college awareness and financial literacy education with establishment of college savings accounts and access to scholarships for middle and high school students in KIPP schools in four cities.

For more information about this program, please contact Janet Boguslaw at (781) 736-3738.

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