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The Learning Conference 2011

June 6–7, 2011

Baltimore, MD

A4: Using Evidence to Elevate Promising Programs

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 8:30 AM–10:00 AM EDT
Composite Room (Third Floor)
Session description

There is growing evidence that social programs focusing on work, skills-building and asset development have a positive impact on underprivileged communities. Grantmakers, nonprofits and government can drive resources to those promising initiatives by more deliberately using evaluation to better understand and share what works. The Center for Economic Opportunity, in partnership with the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and MDRC, is using the Social Innovation Fund as an opportunity to build a broader and more compelling evidence base for effective anti-poverty programs. Hear from a panel of leaders who have been working to build support for sustainable models to reduce urban poverty and explore how grantmakers can use evidence to elevate effective programs.

Participant learning goals

• Learn how innovation and accountability in government can develop and support effective anti-poverty programs.
• Learn how MF/CEO and MDRC hope to gather evidence from diverse settings to demonstrate that programs that invest in human capital can end the cyclical nature of poverty.
• Learn how you can participate in MF/CEO’s national learning network. This network will facilitate learning across nonprofits, private entities, governments, funders and other partners, and will share findings of the evaluations of MF/CEO SIF programs.

Intended learning level

Exploration — exploration of ideas you’ve probably heard before in a way that builds further knowledge and understanding


James Riccio, MDRC
Web site

Speaker Biography

James A. Riccio is director of the Low-Wage Workers and Communities policy area at MDRC. He leads MDRC’s design and evaluation work on a Social Innovation Fund grant to replicate and test promising social initiatives in New York and six other urban areas across the country, in collaboration with the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC. He is also directing randomized trials testing a conditional cash transfer program for low-income New Yorkers and a British program to promote employment retention and advancement among low-wage workers. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University.

Allegra Blackburn-Dwyer, NYC Center for Economic Opportunity
Web site

Speaker Biography

Allegra Blackburn-Dwyer coordinates the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity’s communications, fundraising, and strategic planning efforts, as well as CEO’s conditional cash transfer programs. She is currently working with government and foundation partners across the country to replicate CEO’s most promising programs through the Social Innovation Fund. Blackburn-Dwyer previously managed the CEO’s asset development and higher education programs and also staffed the Mayor Bloomberg’s 2006 Poverty Commission. Blackburn-Dwyer holds a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College and a master’s degree from New York University.

Sinead Keegan, Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City
Web site
Speaker Biography

Sinead Keegan oversees the overall implementation of the Social Innovation Fund programs at the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity. In partnership with the Mayor’s Fund, CEO received a Social Innovation Fund Award to pilot the Center’s successful anti-poverty initiatives in eight cities nationwide. Keegan works in collaboration with a network of public policy experts, foundation and city leaders, and with the Corporation for the National and Community Service to soundly implement the pilots. Keegan holds a master's degree in public policy from Georgetown University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Session Materials