April project update

There’s one fewer project to provide an update on this month: just last week, research assistant Mike McCarthy delivered a report on the needs of Bristol County Veterans to our client, the Veteran’s Transition House of New Bedford. You can read about Mike’s experience leading that project here, and read his full report on our website.

Here’s the status of our major projects this semester:

1) LifeWork project

Katya recently presented baseline data for two cohorts of women now enrolled in the Women’s Fund of Southeastern MA’s LifeWork Project. These women are working toward degrees at Bristol Community College, getting support from mentors and the LifeWork coordinator, and participating in financial literacy programs, all with the aim of helping them earn a family-sustaining wage upon completion. In addition to organizing all participant data in Salesforce and using its tools to run reports, the UI has surveyed the network of partner organizations about their role in this collaborative effort. We have also surveyed participants to learn about their experiences and needs following a focus group with women in the program.

Currently, the LifeWork coordinator is conducting follow-up assessments to track changes in participants’ lives since the start of the program. We will use that data and data provided by BCC to determine the degree to which one year (or, in the case of the second cohort, one semester) in the program has impacted their outcomes. This reporting will be done in May/June, and will conclude our role in designing and piloting the first year evaluation.

2) Taunton HOPE VI

As Bob has written, our team has just begun the second year of evaluating the process and outcomes of this project on individuals, families, the neighborhood, and the city. Right now, this entails conducting 25 interviews with the same heads of household we interviewed last year to determine the ways in which their lives and those of their household members have changed. Upon the completion of interviews, we’ll begin a series of focus groups with HOPE VI residents as well as community service providers to help inform the degree to which the Taunton Housing Authority can positively impact the lives of its current and former residents.

3) United Way Hunger Commission study

In addition to interviewing folks in Taunton, Bob has coordinated an effort to interview approximately 20 organizations affiliated with the United Way Hunger Commission as part of our effort to help that project track inputs/outputs and learn about the needs of its partners. Interviewing will conclude this month and a report on our findings will be furnished to the United Way in May.

4) Health data hub

Our project to develop a website that aggregates and presents health data for SouthCoast stakeholders has completed. We are now working with project partners to launch the site externally, after which point we’ll begin conducting quarterly updates to the site’s content for the following year.

5) New Bedford Regeneration Committee

As Mayor Mitchell noted in his State of the City address, the Urban Initiative has been engaged to work with MassINC to support the work of the recently formed Regeneration Committee. This committee is comprised of city business leaders who are working to identify short-term economic development priorities for New Bedford. Our role is to record and distill meeting proceedings, integrate data and existing research in the process, and develop a report detailing the findings of this work.

6) Center for Education Innovation at Friends Academy

This project to design and pilot an evaluation for CEI’s programming in New Bedford Public Schools has recently begun with a pre-participation survey of currently engaged teachers. Next, we’ll work with the school department to obtain classroom-level data on student outcomes that we will analyze in conjunction with survey results. All the while, we will be working with CEI staff to develop a long-term evaluation strategy that will help CEI ensure that its programming is improving outcomes for teachers and students alike.


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