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Investing for Impact: Lessons from MacArthur Foundation’s Window of Opportunity Initiative

October 1, 2020

As the economic crisis precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded in 2020, nonprofit institutions have stepped up to provide shelter for the homeless, food for the hungry, and health care for those in need. Afinancially strong nonprofit organization that can provide this support through economic downturns does not happen by itself, however. It takes planning, investment, skill and hard work. As funders, policymakers, and practitioners consider how to foster financially strong nonprofit institutions that can help with the current and future crises, it is worth reflecting on the effectiveness of past efforts to support the growth of nonprofit institutions.In the early 2000s, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (MacArthur) launched one such effort. MacArthur sought to support the growth and sustainability of a group of nonprofit affordable housing developers through program-related investments (PRIs) that provided long-term flexible equity-like capital. This report summarizes the results of Abt Associates' evaluation of this initiative. Among other conclusions, Abt found that these investments played an important role in helping the developers survive and even thrive during the last major economic upheaval, the Great Recession. The flexible financing provided by the PRIs helped the nonprofit developers achieve larger scale, improve financial and staff capacity, and react creatively to changes in economic and social conditions.

Investing for Impact: Lessons from MacArthur Foundation’s Housing Preservation Initiative

July 1, 2020

As the economic crisis precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded in 2020, nonprofit institutions have stepped up to provide shelter for the homeless, food for the hungry, and health care for those in need. A financially strong nonprofit organization that can provide this support through economic downturns does not happen by itself, however. It takes planning, investment, skill and hard work. As funders, policymakers, and practitioners consider how to foster financially strong nonprofit institutions that can help with the current and future crises, it is worth reflecting on the effectiveness of past efforts to support the growth of nonprofit institutions.In the early 2000s, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (MacArthur) launched an effort to support the growth and sustainability of a group of nonprofit affordable housing developers through program-related investments (PRIs) that provided long-term flexible equity-like capital. This brief summarizes the results of Abt Associates' evaluation of this initiative. Among other findings, Abt found that these investments played an important role in helping the developers survive and even thrive during the last major economic upheaval, the Great Recession. The flexible financing provided by the PRIs helped the nonprofit developers achieve larger scale, improve financial and staff capacity, and react creatively to changes in economic and social conditions.

Access to Outpatient Mental Health Services in Massachusetts: A Summary of Findings

October 30, 2017

This series of reports describes the results of a comprehensive mixed-methods study, Access to Outpatient Mental Health Services in Massachusetts. The study sought to quantify the wait times for outpatient mental health office visits in Massachusetts, better understand the experiences of clients seeking an appointment, and identify facilitators and barriers to accessing mental health services. Study findings are based on primary data from multiple sources, including qualitative data from stakeholder interviews and client focus groups and quantitative data from surveys of clinicians and administrators at organizations providing outpatient mental health services.

Evaluation of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Chronic Homelessness Initiative: 2016 Evaluation Report, Phase I

October 1, 2016

In 2011, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation partnered with Abt Associates Inc. to conduct an evaluation of the Hilton Foundation's Chronic Homelessness Initiative, with the goal of answering the overarching question: Is the Chronic Homelessness Initiative an effective strategy to end and prevent chronic homelessness in Los Angeles County? This final evaluation report provides an overview of the community's progress on selected metrics over five years, January 2011 through December 2015.Although the community, with support from the Foundation, has made substantial progress in furthering support for permanent supportive housing (PSH) as a solution to chronic homelessness, significant challenges remain. In the January 2016 point-in-time count, 14,058 individuals were reported as experiencing chronic homelessness within LA County. This represents an increase of nearly 5,000 from the point-in-time count conducted in January 2011 at the start of the Initiative, despite the high number of housing placements during this same time period. Economic conditions, insufficient and shrinking availability of affordable housing, and unmet need for mental health and supportive services are credited not only with cancelling out the effect of the housing placements but also with adding to the count within the collaborative system.We do not believe that these challenges and the increasing numbers of chronically homeless people suggest that the community's strategy on chronic homelessness is failing. Rather, the growth in numbers suggests that the new systems that coalesced through the work of Phase I of the Initiative are needed more than ever as of the end of 2015. Many stakeholders consider LA to be at a possible turning point, with significant new commitments of funding to address chronic homelessness and more alignment on the issue among elected officials and leaders of the key local government agencies.There is no question that the landscape shifted between 2011 and 2015 and that the community reached a new standard for collaboration as of January 2016. Strong systems were in place, and public agencies had embraced new responsibilities. As the Foundation looks ahead to the next phase of the Initiative, the challenges of getting to the scale needed to end chronic homelessness will require all to take stock of their roles and assess their best fit within the collaborative system.

Substance Use Prevention Initiative: 2016 Evaluation Report, Year 2

October 1, 2016

Youth substance use is a leading public health concern in the United States. The U.S. spends over $700 billion a year in alcohol, tobacco, and drug-related problems associated with health, crime, and lost productivity in the workplace.i Because most substance use concerns manifest in adolescence and the young adult years, evidence-based prevention and early intervention strategies for youth are particularly vital to reducing the burden of substance use on individuals, families, and communities. In recent years, policies and services implemented as a result of the Affordable Care Act have significantly impacted primary care and behavioral health delivery systems by emphasizing the value of preventive services, promoting models for primary care and behavioral health integration, engaging communities in population health strategies, and increasing access to substance use and mental health services. Capitalizing on this momentum, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation's (the Foundation's) Youth Substance Use Prevention and Early Intervention Strategic Initiative (Strategic Initiative) is leading a movement in how people think about, talk about, and address youth substance use. This initiative is laying the groundwork for long-term change through communications and advocacy, preparing the workforce, promoting evidence-based practices, and aligning services across physical health care, behavioral health systems, and community supports nationwide.The Strategic Initiative is designed to advance the understanding of substance use as a health issue by implementing screening and early intervention approaches to prevent and reduce substance use among youth as part of routine practice in health care and other settings where youth receive services. The Strategic Initiative's work is centered around a public health, population-based approach of screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT). Screening refers to the routine, universal administration of validated questions to identify potential risk related to alcohol and drug use, followed by positive reinforcement for youth who screen as 'no' or 'low' risk. Brief intervention is one or more short, motivational conversations, typically incorporating feedback, advice, and goal setting around decreasing 'moderate' risk related to substance use. Referral to treatment describes the process of connecting individuals with problematic use ('high' risk) to appropriate assessment, treatment, and/or additional services based on their level of need. The intent of the SBIRT process is to identify and address substance use and related risks– including health, social, and legal consequences attributed to substance use– through developmentally appropriate interventions or referrals to other services when indicated. Historically, youth substance use has been solely addressed through prevention interventions focused on abstinence or substance use disorder services provided through traditional specialty treatment systems. The SBIRT framework addresses the gap between primary prevention and treatment for disorders by identifying use and potential risk early and intervening before the use of alcohol or drugs leads to more serious consequences.

Reaching for the Cap and Gown: Progress Toward Success Boston's College Completion Goals for Graduates of the Boston Public Schools

June 13, 2016

A new report, prepared for Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Success Boston college completion initiative, shows a remarkable increase in both the percentage and the number of Boston Public Schools graduates who complete college within six years. The report also examines college completion for students with Success Boston coaches, a major intervention launched by the Boston Foundation and its partners, including the Boston Public Schools, in 2009. Success Boston, a citywide multi-sector college completion initiative, was launched in 2008 in response to a report that found that only 35% of the BPS Class of 2000 graduates who enrolled in college earned a degree within seven years of graduating high school. The initiative is guided by the Boston Public Schools, the Boston Foundation, UMass Boston, Bunker Hill Community College, and the Boston Private Industry Council, along with dozens of colleges, universities, and nonprofit organizations. Among the initiative's ambitious goals was pushing members of the BPS Class of 2009 to a 52%six-year college completion rate. Today's report, "Reaching for the Cap and Gown: Progress Toward Success Boston's College Completion Goals for Graduates of the Boston Public Schools," finds that the six-year college completion rate of first-year college enrollees from the BPS Class of 2009 was 51.3%--within one percentage point of the 52% goal set in 2008. Equally impressive is the gain in the number of BPS graduates completing college within six years of high school graduation--1,314 from the Class of 2009, compared to 735 from the Class of 2000, the equivalent of a 79% increase. The study also finds that college completion, at 54.7%, is even higher than the goal for students who enrolled in the fall immediately after graduating from high school.

Evaluation of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Chronic Homelessness Initiative: 2015

December 1, 2015

Under a September 2011 contract with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Abt Associates has been conducting an evaluation of the Hilton Foundation's Chronic Homelessness Initiative, with the goal of answering the overarching question: Is the Chronic Homelessness Initiative an effective strategy to end and prevent chronic homelessness in Los Angeles County? The evaluation is designed to provide both progress on interim milestones related to improving the systems for serving people experiencing chronic homelessness and estimates of the effect of permanent supportive housing (PSH) on residents and on the problem of chronic homelessness. Since the beginning of the Chronic Homelessness Initiative, the Foundation has awarded more than $56.7 million in multiyear grants to 29 nonprofit groups working in LA and beyond. Grantmaking has concentrated on three broad areas: homelessness systems change, targeted program delivery, and knowledge dissemination. The Foundation has shown leadership across the three funding areas by its willingness to take reasonable risks to innovate, by spurring other community stakeholders to action, and by expanding the reach of the Initiative beyond direct investments. The Foundation articulated six strategic goals for the Initiative. The goals represent significant milestones toward the ultimate goal of ending and preventing chronic homelessness in Los Angeles. In this fourth annual evaluation report, we provide updates on progress towards each goal. These status updates are summarized below and elaborated in the body of this report. Many of the five-year goals have been exceeded, and systems change efforts have created momentum for continued success.

Substance Use Prevention Initiative: 2015 Evaluation Report, Year 1

November 1, 2015

While trends in the amount and variety of drugs and alcohol consumed have fluctuated over the decades as reported in the National Institute on Drug Abuse's Monitoring the Future (MTF) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) surveys, the issue remains – the levels of consumption of drugs, misuse of prescription medications, and use of alcohol are still significant and are detrimental to the health and wellbeing of the nation's youth. Adolescent substance use often "flies under the radar" until use escalates and problems in school or at home develop. Most health care practitioners, including physicians, do not receive training on substance use disorders as part of their medical education. As a result, they are ill-equipped to identify and address substance use as part of routine healthcare. For example, less than half of pediatricians screen their adolescent patients for substance use (Harris et al, 2012). Furthermore, physicians' reliance on personal judgment versus a standardized screening tool has been shown to miss problem use more than 75% of the time (Wilson et al., 2004).In 2013, the Board of Directors of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation (Foundation) approved a five-year strategy focused on developing and implementing substance use prevention and early intervention services for youth. As part of its strategy, the Foundation has identified three primary objectives for prevention and early intervention services:* Expand education and training* Increase access and strengthen implementation* Develop and disseminate knowledgeThe Strategic Initiative is designed to advance the understanding of substance use as a health issue by implementing screening and early intervention approaches to prevent and reduce substance use among youth as part of routine practice in health care and other settings where they receive services. In this rapidly-evolving field, the Foundation has outlined and executed a structured approach to fund programs designed to move the needle in training, delivery, and evaluation of youth-related substance use prevention and early intervention activities, specifically emphasizing the screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) framework. Through the Strategic Initiative, Foundation grantees develop training and technical assistance curriculums and toolkits, implement innovative screening and early intervention approaches in a variety of settings, and conduct systems change activities designed to prevent and reduce youth substance use and promote health and wellbeing.In 2014, Abt Associates was selected by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation as their Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) partner for its Youth Substance Use Prevention and Early Intervention Strategic Initiative. The grant to Abt Associates represents an important opportunity for and collaboration between the Foundation, its grantees, Abt, and the broader stakeholder field.

Evaluation of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Chronic Homelessness Initiative: 2014 Dashboard and Executive Summary

October 1, 2014

Under a September 2011 contract with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Abt Associates has been conducting an evaluation of the Hilton Foundation's Chronic Homelessness Initiative with the goal of answering the overarching question: Is the Chronic Homelessness Initiative an effective strategy to end and prevent chronic homelessness in Los Angeles County? The evaluation is designed to provide both interim milestones related to improving the systems for serving people experiencing chronic homelessness and estimates of the effect of permanent supportive housing (PSH) on its residents and on the problem of chronic homelessness. Since the beginning of the Chronic Homelessness Initiative, the Foundation has distributed more than $42.3 million in multi-year grants to 21 nonprofit groups working in LA. The LA grantees include nonprofit groups working on regional systems change and capacity-building, as well as local groups providing direct services to chronically homeless individuals, PSH developers, and public policy advocates.In this report, the third of the annual updates, the evaluation team documents the significant progress that has been made on each of the six primary Hilton Foundation Chronic Homeless Initiative goals, summarized in the table below. Many of the five-year goals have been exceeded, and most others are on track to be reached within the next two years. These accomplishments are impressive; even more notable is the extensive systems change that has occurred, which promises to ensure continued success.

Evaluation of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Chronic Homelessness Initiative: 2014

October 1, 2014

Under a September 2011 contract with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Abt Associates has been conducting an evaluation of the Hilton Foundation's Chronic Homelessness Initiative with the goal of answering the overarching question: Is the Chronic Homelessness Initiative an effective strategy to end and prevent chronic homelessness in Los Angeles County? The evaluation is designed to provide both interim milestones related to improving the systems for serving people experiencing chronic homelessness and estimates of the effect of permanent supportive housing (PSH) on its residents and on the problem of chronic homelessness. Since the beginning of the Chronic Homelessness Initiative, the Foundation has distributed more than $42.3 million in multi-year grants to 21 nonprofit groups working in LA. The LA grantees include nonprofit groups working on regional systems change and capacity-building, as well as local groups providing direct services to chronically homeless individuals, PSH developers, and public policy advocates.In this report, the third of the annual updates, the evaluation team documents the significant progress that has been made on each of the six primary Hilton Foundation Chronic Homeless Initiative goals, summarized in the table below. Many of the five-year goals have been exceeded, and most others are on track to be reached within the next two years. These accomplishments are impressive; even more notable is the extensive systems change that has occurred, which promises to ensure continued success.

Evaluation of the Sustainable Employment in a Green US Economy (SEGUE)

January 1, 2013

The Rockefeller Foundation's Sustainable Employment in a Green US Economy(SEGUE) initiative has been a central player in green job discussions since 2009, andeven earlier through the Foundation's Campaign for American Workers. In its earliestdevelopmental stages, the initiative sought "to maximize the 'green' growth areas ofthe economy … while benefiting low- and moderate-income workers" (RockefellerFoundation, 2009b). SEGUE focused on creating jobs by supporting green economicactivities. Initially, the focus was the building energy-retrofit market in the constructionindustry and, later, on water infrastructure and waste management. The demandfor workers became recognized as the bottleneck that needed to be released, in orderto realize the benefits of the green economy.To document and expand upon the learning and exploration that SEGUE has started,the Rockefeller Foundation provided a grant to the research firm, Abt Associates,Inc., in April 2012, to conduct a short-term, developmental evaluation of SEGUE. Theevaluation focused on three areas: learning for the purposes of determining SEGUE'sfuture direction, documenting SEGUE's grant and non-grant outputs for accountabilityneeds, and providing public knowledge on green jobs and evaluations in general.This report provides the results from the evaluation.

Review of Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives

February 1, 2004

This document presents introductory information gathered on a wide range of neighborhood revitalization initiatives.