LEO awarded $750,000 in external grants to support continued anti-poverty work

Author: Rachel Fulcher-Dawson

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The Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) at the University of Notre Dame has received multiple funding awards totaling nearly $750,000 to continue its work reducing poverty and improving lives through evidence-based programs and policies. 

“We are excited about and thankful for the support from these funders,” said James Sullivan, co-founder of LEO and a professor of economics and the Gilbert F. Schaefer Collegiate Chair. “This will allow us to continue to create evidence that supports programs doing innovative work to serve the poor.” 

LEO, a research lab housed in Notre Dame’s Department of Economics, has received $150,000 from a private foundation to support its efforts to rigorously measure the impact of the Padua Program, an innovative program which utilizes intensive wrap around case management to help clients permanently exit poverty. 

Catholic Charities Fort Worth (CCFW) developed the Padua Program and LEO is conducting a randomized control trial evaluation of it in order to determine program impact and cost effectiveness. 

LEO also received a $250,000 grant from another private foundation to support efforts in the area of criminal justice. The goal of this project is to build researcher-practitioner partnerships in order to create evidence-based programs to improve outcomes for those going through the criminal justice system. 

This builds on LEO’s core belief that this evidence can best be generated when social service agencies partner with academics to provide the highest quality evidence about innovative programs.

LEO also received $337,000 from J-PAL North America, a regional office of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to support the evaluation of a homelessness prevention program in Santa Clara County, California. 

Researchers will evaluate the county’s rapid rehousing program that aims to address the persistent problem of homelessness in the community by providing immediate housing and support to chronically homeless individuals. LEO and J-PAL will support the efforts of the county to measure the impact and cost effectiveness of the program through a RCT evaluation.

LEO is also partnering with one local government that was selected by J-PAL North America through the same J-PAL State and Local Innovation Initiative. In South Bend, LEO is collaborating with city officials to plan the evaluation of the Jobs for America’s Graduates program for youth at risk of dropping out of school. 

Since its founding in 2012, LEO has received more than $5.5 million in external grant funding including awards from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and several prominent private foundations working to reduce poverty. LEO’s work focuses on identifying effective programs in the areas of education, health, self-sufficiency, criminal justice and housing.