Grantor: The JM Foundation, New York, New York
Grantee: The National Results Council
In the era of devolution, it is more critical than ever that funders, providers and consumers of human services have objective standards with which to gauge the effectiveness of programs. For the first time, thanks in part to this three-year challenge grant from The JM Foundation, the National Results Council (NRC) will provide users of human services the same standards of comparative performance that users of consumer goods have come to take for granted.
The NRC stresses two things: results achieved and the true costs of achieving them. Beginning with vocational rehabilitation programs that attempt to find jobs for people with disabilities, the NRC is developing a results-based methodology which can rank similar vocational rehabilitation programs across the country according to employment rates of graduates and costs per participant. This methodology is being road-tested in a pilot study of 90 Goodwill Industries rehabilitation programs.
The hope is to create a competitive market for human service programs which forces higher standards of performance through better-informed, more discerning funders and customers. But just creating a rank order of vocational rehabilitation providers is not sufficient to force change in the human services marketplace, JM Foundation Executive Director Chris Olander told Policy Review’s Adam Meyerson last fall. Accountability must be enforced by the funders of these services, both public and private. “We don’t pay for outcomes in this industry, we pay for quantity of services,” said Olander. “We have to start paying for results.”
After vocational rehab, the NRC will evaluate programs in the $20 billion-a-year job training industry. Later, it will turn its sights on programs such as alcohol and drug treatment, mental health, and teen-age pregnancy prevention.
The NRC’s $300,000 in development costs have been underwritten by some 16 foundations and corporations in addition to The JM Foundation. Other major funders include the Achelis and Bodman Foundations, the Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation, and the Scaife Family Foundation.
Grantor: The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Vancouver, Washington
Grantee: The Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE)
The foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE) had been providing environmental economics and policy seminars for corporate executives since 1985 when, in 1991, a judge suggested that it start a similar program for members of the federal bench. With this grant from the M.J. Murdock Trust, as well as help from the Charles R. Lambe, Armstrong, John M. Olin, and Alex C. Walker Foundations, FREE launched an annual program for judges now in its sixth year.
Over the course of three five-day seminars, federal judges are given the education in natural sciences, risk analysis and related analytic disciplines that they might have missed in law school, according to FREE Director Peter Geddes. They are tutored by economists, environmentalists, scientists and representatives of industry on issues ranging from risk assessment to federal land use. “While our seminars are explicitly pro-environment, they explain why ecological values are not the only important values,” said Geddes. “We stress that tradeoffs among competing values are inescapable and show why it is ethically and materially irresponsible to pretend that these choices can be avoided.”
FREE, located in Bozeman, Montana, boasts that 150 judges from jurisdictions across the country have completed their program. Of the 850 federal judges in the United States, 150 applied for 54 FREE seminar openings in 1996.
Grantor: The Marie C. & Joseph C. Wilson Foundation, Rochester, New York
Grantee: Wilson Commencement Park
The Marie C. and Joseph C. Wilson Foundation took a big gamble in 1989 when it approved a grant of $1.4 million—roughly 13 percent of its assets—to build a 50-unit, transitional housing development called Wilson Commencement Park (WCP) in Rochester, New York. The investment was so great that the board stopped all other grantmaking for over a year to concentrate on the project. But the gamble paid off this year when a study of the first 70 alumni of WCP showed impressive gains in employment and self-sufficiency. Employment levels jumped over forty percent for graduates of the project; dependence on public assistance fell even more dramatically, from 76 percent of those entering the program to just 19 percent today.
Grantors: The Brennan Family Foundation, Akron, Ohio
The Walton Family Foundation, Bentonville, Arkansas
Grantee: HOPE Central Academy, HOPE Ohio City Academy
Amount: $500,000 each
The theory behind school choice is that the educational market will adjust to increased competition, creating new and better opportunities for children to learn. Sure enough, when the state of Ohio began a pilot scholarship program for low-income Cleveland kids in 1995, there were more applicants than there were available openings in area private schools. So David Brennan of the Brennan Family Foundation and John Walton of the Walton Family Foundation decided to expand the educational marketplace by opening two new schools. On August 13, 1996, they began hiring personnel and ordering supplies, equipment and textbooks. On August 28—just 16 days later—the HOPE Central Academy and HOPE Ohio City Academy opened their doors to 340 students.
Virtually all of the students at the HOPE academies are scholarship students. With family incomes at or below the federal poverty level, they are Cleveland’s highest at-risk group of children. Of the 40 members of the HOPE academies’ initial third-grade class—all of which came from the Cleveland public schools—only six perform at grade level. The goal is for these students to remediate to grade level by the end of their fourth-grade year. Brennan, who sits on the board of HOPE for Cleveland’s Children, a 501(c)(3) established to help parents and students take advantage of the Cleveland scholarship program, contends that the city can no longer afford these poor results from its public schools. HOPE plans to expand the educational marketplace even further by opening schools for seriously handicapped students and the learning disabled in the fall.
Grantors: The Scaife Family Foundation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Grantee: Duquesne University
Duquesne president Dr. John E. Murray is thinking big. This grant from the Scaife Family Foundation will be used, according to Murray, to establish an international institute which he envisions “will be the single most important repository of family research in the world.”
The Duquesne University Family Institute will focus on the family from a international, multidisciplinary perspective. Located on the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania campus of Duquesne, it will serve as an international clearinghouse for information on the family as well as pursue original research. Within its first four years, the Institute plans to publish a multidisciplinary textbook for use at colleges and universities, develop materials for K-12 educational use, and establish an annual symposium in Pittsburgh. It also plans to develop the first international electronic database on family research available on the internet.
But the institute’s mission will focus on more than academics. Because it is being created “in response to grave societal concerns regarding the disintegration of the family,” the materials it generates will be used to educate legislators and policy makers. The goal, according to Murray, is to influence the way modern society views the family toward encouraging and rewarding traditional “family values.”