The Social IMPACT Research Center has an extensive portfolio of needs assessment and evaluation research on issues facing poor and low-income populations. We work with foundations, nonprofits, governments, companies, and media on issues related to poverty, employment, housing, homelessness, education, asset development, human services, and justice and human rights. Below is a sample of current and recent IMPACT projects, click on an issue area below to jump to that topic:
Featured Publication Title: Illinois's 33%: Report on Illinois Poverty Publication Date: January 2013 Featured Publication Funder: Robert R. McCormick Foundation Publication Date: November 2012 Featured Publication Funder: City of Chicago Department of Family and Social Services Publication Date: November 2012 Featured Publication Title: No Place Like Home, Porter County, Indiana Plan to End Homelessness Funders: The Caring Place, City of Portage, City of Valparaiso, Gabriel’s Horn, Housing Opportunities, Inc., Porter County Commissioners, Porter County Community Foundation, Porter-Starke Services, Townof Chesterton, and the United Way of Porter County Publication Date: January 2012 Featured Publication Funder: Robert R. McCormick Foundation Publication Date: November 2012 Featured Publication Look for our upcoming paper on the racial wealth gap in Illinois in the fall of 2013! IMPACT is conducting analysis on never-before-seen data on credit scores and debt in Illinois that reveals strong relationships between race and these indicators of financial well-being. Featured Publication Funder: The Chicago Community Trust Publication Date: August 2011 Featured Publication Funder: Greater Chicago Food Depository Publication Date: May 2012 Featured Publication Funders: The Chicago Bar Foundation, the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, the Illinois Bar Foundation, the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, and the Polk Bros. Foundation Publication Date: May 2012
Title: Illinois's 33%: Report on Illinois Poverty
Publication Date: January 2013
Funder: Robert R. McCormick Foundation
Publication Date: November 2012
Funder: City of Chicago Department of Family and Social Services
Publication Date: November 2012
Title: No Place Like Home, Porter County, Indiana Plan to End Homelessness
Funders: The Caring Place, City of Portage, City of Valparaiso, Gabriel’s Horn, Housing Opportunities, Inc., Porter County Commissioners, Porter County Community Foundation, Porter-Starke Services, Townof Chesterton, and the United Way of Porter County
Publication Date: January 2012
Funder: Robert R. McCormick Foundation
Publication Date: November 2012
Look for our upcoming paper on the racial wealth gap in Illinois in the fall of 2013!
IMPACT is conducting analysis on never-before-seen data on credit scores and debt in Illinois that reveals strong relationships between race and these indicators of financial well-being.
Funder: The Chicago Community Trust
Publication Date: August 2011
Funder: Greater Chicago Food Depository
Publication Date: May 2012
Funders: The Chicago Bar Foundation, the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, the Illinois Bar Foundation, the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, and the Polk Bros. Foundation
Publication Date: May 2012
For over 10 years, IMPACT has produced the annual Report on Illinois Poverty. The annual report is a snapshot of the state of poverty in Illinois. It is one of only a handful of state reports on poverty in the nation and is unique in its presentation and delivery of information. The goals of the project are simple: to educate lay people, legislators, and other decision makers in Illinois that poverty is a reality for millions of people in the state; to help people make the links between the various facets of poverty and help them see that educational challenges, health disparities and access issues, hunger, employment barriers, and housing hardship are part and parcel of the broader issue of poverty; and ultimately to compel them to care, thereby influencing policy and programmatic changes in order to expand opportunity for the most vulnerable people in the state of Illinois.
The latest report, "Illinois's 33%: Report on Illinois Poverty," was released in January 2013. Complementing the report, IMPACT has updated its interactive website that offers easily accessible county-level data related to poverty, employment, education, assets, and more. The interactive site allows advocates, impacted individuals, and decision makers to see how poverty is impacting different populations and different areas of the state and to build fact sheets or spreadsheets tailored to geography and selected indicators. Site visitors can print, download, or share the data via email and social media outlets.
IMPACT continually tracks poverty-related indicators for the nation and for a variety of geographies in Illinois and across the Midwest. Each year, IMPACT provides quick analysis on newly released American Community Survey and Current Population Survey data, and develops geographically-specific fact sheets for counties and places in Illinois and the Midwest.
The U.S. Census Bureau released new information on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage on Tuesday, September 17 and Thursday, September 19, 2013. The Social IMPACT Research Center has developed a fact sheet on the new data for Illinois, Chicago, and the surrounding region. IMPACT Researchers are available to provide comment on the new data and help users understand the trends.
Since 2008, the Social IMPACT Research Center has been home to a cost of living project called the Illinois Self-Sufficiency Standard. The Self-Sufficiency Standard is a tool that calculates how much income families need to pay for their basic needs based on where they live. The Illinois Self-Sufficiency Standard has been calculated for 108 areas in the state and for 152 different family types (varying by number of adults and children as well as by the ages of those children).
IMPACT is currently working in collaboration with Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) to update the Self-Sufficiency Standard to the more robust Basic Economic Security TablesTM (BESTTM). Like the Illinois Self-Sufficiency Standard, The BESTTM Index is a cost of living tool that measures how much income families need to meet their most basic expenses. The BESTTM Index is based on real local costs for different family compositions and makes clear how much families in over 100 geographies in Illinois can expect to pay for basic necessities such as housing, health care, transportation, food, and childcare—and what sort of an income they need to afford these things without additional supports. By highlighting the differences between these basic family budgets and local wages, the BESTTM Index also helps define who needs assistance to be more economically secure and emphasizes the importance of income supports, quality jobs, and career ladders. Ultimately, the BESTTM Index is a tool that can be used to plan not just how to move families out of poverty, but how to move them on a path to true economic security.
In 2013, IMPACT will create user-friendly tools and a robust communications strategy to facilitate use of the BESTTM Index by service providers helping clients with career and education planning, individuals and families considering re-locating to new communities, business and community leaders weighing workforce and labor market decisions, and advocates and policymakers working to expand economic security.
IMPACT is conducting a multi-year evaluation of Illinois’ subsidized work relief program, Put Illinois to Work (PITW). PITW was the largest Emergency Contingency Fund-supported adult program in the nation, putting 27,000 low-income, unemployed and underemployed Illinoisans in jobs with over 4,200 employers through a counter-cyclical work relief model. IMPACT’s evaluation is focused on documenting the process by which the program came to be, understanding the experience and outcomes for the workers and businesses involved, and evaluating the impact on workers, businesses, and communities across Illinois.
IMPACT conducted an evaluation of the Chicago Neighborhood JobStart program, which placed over 1,500 low-income residents of historically high unemployment neighborhoods into transitional jobs. The first evaluation report documents implementation and outcomes and provides recommendations for future subsidized and transitional jobs programs based on the successes and challenges of JobStart.
IMPACT is conducting an evaluation of Michigan’s Earn & Learn, a subsidized employment and training program. IMPACT is evaluating program implementation and outcomes, and estimating the impact of Michigan Earn & Learn on participant employment, earnings, public-benefits receipt, and engagement with the justice system. The evaluation will inform Michigan Earn & Learn operations and as well as subsequent policy efforts aimed at integrating disadvantaged individuals into Michigan’s workforce.
IMPACT released our report, New Veterans in Illinois: A Call to Action, in November 2012. This report presents a profile of new veterans in Illinois and offers a picture of the challenges they may face upon their return to civilian life. It provides vital data on our most recent veterans, offers a snapshot of some of the most vulnerable of the new veterans—young, wounded, and female veterans—and ends with a call to action and a blueprint to help service providers, employers, education leaders, elected officials, religious leaders, and philanthropic organizations best support them. The report was prepared with the support of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation Veterans Initiative.
IMPACT conducted an evaluation of the Student and Family Support Initiative (SFSI) launched by the City of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS). The program, operated by Heartland Human Care Services (HHCS), Heartland Health Outreach, and Beacon Therapeutic Diagnostic and Treatment Center, worked with doubled-up students in Englewood schools (elementary and secondary) providing case management, therapeutic services, housing assistance, employment services and asset building classes. The evaluation captured who was served, what their housing situation was before the program, the package of services provided, and outcomes. The final evaluation showed a positive relationship between stable housing and educational acheivement.
IMPACT conducted a statewide study of supportive housing for the Supportive Housing Providers Association. This study included 476 tenants from 31 supportive housing projects across Illinois. Through the study, IMPACT explored whether supportive housing reduces residents' reliance on expensive, publicly-funded emergency services. Using primarily public agency data, the study tracked individuals' usage of services for the time period 2 years before they entered supportive housing, comparing it to their usage of services 2 years after they entered supportive housing.
Faced with an increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness and a system strained doing what it can to address the issue, service providers, shelter and housing providers, community members, faith-based organizations and local funders commissioned the Social IMPACT Research Center to create a Plan to End Homelessness for Porter County.
This groundbreaking plan, No Place Like Home, lays a foundation to retool and refine the Porter County homeless service delivery system to most effectively prevent homelessness and rapidly re-house people who are experiencing homelessness.
IMPACT is conducting a multi-year evaluation of the work done by member organizations of the Chicago Youth Voices Network. Member organizations embarked on an evaluation process with adult program alumni to assess the degree to which hands-on media production and dissemination contributes to developing productive, independent, and engaged citizens. IMPACT will also build the capacity of member organizations to conduct evaluations in the future, and help shape the broader discourse and positioning of youth media. Visit the project page for the evaluation to read part one of the evaluation.
IMPACT worked with Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI) to create a summary report on their Partnership for Instructional Leadership (PIL) initiative. The three-year initiative’s aim was to help a group of neighborhood Chicago Public Schools to build internal capacity to improve school achievement for all students. It began with a partnership among BPI, school administrative staff and teachers, and Targeted Leadership Consulting (TLC), whose framework became the basis of the day-to-day work of the initiative. IMPACT surveyed key stakeholders who participated in the process and worked with BPI to paint a clear picture of the most important aspects of the initiative in order to share with decision makers and others in the education filed interested in school change.
IMPACT is working with the Illinois Asset Building Group to explore some of the more complex facets of the racial wealth gap—credit and debt. IMPACT is conducting analysis on never-before-seen data on credit scores and debt in Illinois that reveals strong relationships between race and these indicators of financial well-being. IABG is convening roundtable discussions with its members throughout the state to discuss the key findings, which will inform the final report to be released this fall.
IMPACT conducts research on the human services system in Illinois with multiple partners in order to improve the quality of services and service delivery and to help decision makers and stakeholders reach a better understanding about human services and their value to society. Click here to learn more about IMPACT's human services system research and to access reports and other resources.
The Social IMPACT Research Center (IMPACT), at the request of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, conducted a geographic analysis of primarily federally-funded nutrition programs that target older adults.The goal of the project was to better understand what Chicago Community Areas and Suburban Cook County townships are most underserved by federally-funded nutrition programming in relation to the number of older adults likely to have need for food assistance. Key findings were:
- Hundreds of thousands of older adults are at risk of hunger and food insecurity in Cook County.
- Available resources for federal nutrition programs are not commensurate with need.
- Resources for older adult nutrition programming are particularly scarce in Suburban Cook County.
- Certain areas of Cook County have less program coverage than others.
To inform policymakers and other stakeholders about the tangible economic benefits of legal aid, the Chicago Bar Foundation, the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, the Illinois Bar Foundation, the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, and the Polk Bros. Foundation commissioned the Social IMPACT Research Center to study the economic benefits of legal aid in Illinois. The resulting report quantifies some of the benefits to clients and other Illinoisans from cases closed by seven legal aid providers in 2010:
- Legal aid providers won $49.4 million in monetary awards for clients. Examples of monetary awards are child support and alimony, public benefits like Social Security and unemployment insurance, and relief from illegal charges by a landlord or payment to a predatory lender.
- Legal aid providers won $11.9 million in benefits wholly or partially paid for by the federal government. It is estimated that these awards were associated with $9.3 million in demand for goods and services, $5.4 million in household income, and 172 non-legal-aid jobs across Illinois.
- By preventing or obtaining more time in foreclosures or evictions, obtaining, protecting, or increasing rental subsidies, and assisting clients with other housing issues, legal aid providers avoided $1.9 million in costs to homeless shelters.
- By obtaining protective orders, divorces, child custody, and legal recognition for noncitizens experiencing abuse, legal aid providers avoided $9.4 million in costs of domestic violence to individuals.
IMPACT is conducting an evaluation of the Altgeld-Riverdale Consortium (ARC). ARC is a community-driven partnership between residents of Altgeld Gardens and the surrounding Riverdale neighborhood, and public and private agencies located and/or operating in the area, working together to revitalize the community and increase safety through improved coordination and collaboration and by assuring quality resources for all. IMPACT’s evaluation will explore ARC’s current effort to improve safety, focusing on the process by which ARC works to achieve its goals, and assess how effective ARC is at changing knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of safety in the Altgeld-Riverdale area.