Arnold Foundation Commits $15 Million to Address Social Problems

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation has announced a $15 million competition designed to spur the use of evidence-based programs to advance solutions to social problems such as poverty, educational disparities, and crime.

Through the Moving the Needle Competition, the foundation will provide funding for state and local governments and nonprofit organizations that implement highly effective social programs. Its Top Tier Evidence Initiative has identified roughly a dozen programs that the foundation believes can produce outcomes such as improved high school graduation rates, greater employment and higher earnings, and a reduction in the number of criminal arrests.

To be eligible, governments and nonprofits must commit to using existing resources to pay for a program's delivery. The foundation will provide up to $1.5 million for technical assistance to help ensure that agencies implement the programs in the same manner in which they were shown to be effective in the original evaluation. As a condition of the award, winning programs must agree to participate in a randomized controlled trial (RCT). LJAF will select and fund an independent evaluator to conduct the RCTs, which will determine whether the sizable effects found in previous studies can be reproduced.

"For programs with rigorous evidence of strong impacts, there is every reason to expand their delivery, without delay," said Jon Baron, LJAF vice president of evidence-based policy. "If implemented effectively and on a large scale, these programs may improve the lives of millions of Americans."