Institute on Assets and Social Policy

The Heller School for Social Policy and ManagementReturn to this website's homepageBrandeis University

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 

Recognizing the need to address the increasing vulnerability of families in Bangor’s public-housing communities, the Bangor Housing Authority (BHA) has developed a potentially higher impact model for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (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 the development and implementation of this new FSS model, the John T. Gorman Foundation of Portland, ME, engaged the Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP). In collaboration with BHA, IASP conducted an assessment to illuminate the successes and challenges of the existing FSS model at BHA. Findings from the first report, BHA Enhanced FSS Program Process and Implementation Report, describes how the project evolved, critical steps taken to launch the program, issues encountered, and early experiences of the first enrolled participants.

This report has helped to guide the design and implementation of a new FSS program initiative provided by BHA. While incorporating the basic elements of the FSS Program, BHA has aligned FSS with key work advancement, asset-building, and financial capability and empowerment strategies through strategic collaborations with providers in the Bangor community.

Released in January of 2016, IASP published a preliminary report, tracking the successes and challenges facing participants in this new, enhanced FSS program. Click here to view the report. Providing a snapshot of early baseline and interim economic progress for participants who enrolled in the BHA enhanced FSS program between March and December of 2015, the preliminary outcome report establishes a starting point for examining the research question: Does BHA’s enhanced focus on asset-building and work advancement strategies produce greater participant outcomes in employment, income, and accumulated savings? This summary analysis establishes the baseline economic indicators for assessing participant progress at incremental stages throughout the program.

For more information about this program or similar evaluations, please contact Alexis Mann at (781) 736-8693.

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 conducted a process evaluation and provided 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 combined 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, please contact Janet Boguslaw at (781) 736-3738.

Copyright 2016 • Brandeis University • All rights are reserved