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Evidence-Based Policymaking Collaborative

About the Collaborative

Momentum for evidence-based policymaking is building at all levels of government, from federal legislation funding rigorous evaluations to the bipartisan Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking to states looking to make funding decisions based on results. With support from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Urban Institute, Brookings Institution, American Enterprise Institute, and Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative have formed the Evidence-Based Policymaking Collaborative.

To learn more about the Collaborative and see the full collection of research, visit


Evidence-Based Policymaking Toolkit: Actionable strategies to advance an evidence-based policymaking agenda, including both existing approaches that can be implemented in new areas and fresh ideas applicable to multiple policy contexts.

To view the full Toolkit, visit

Policy Briefs

State Evidence-Based Policymaking Commissions

The federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking was established by Congress in 2016 to promote and facilitate the use of federal data and evidence in policymaking and program management. In 2017, the commission issued 22 recommendations to achieve these goals. Given the reception that the recommendations of the federal commission have received, it makes great sense to encourage states to conduct their own commissions and to issue a report that their state agencies, including the governor’s office, could follow to improve their conformity with the major precepts of evidence-based policy and the recommendations of the federal commission with which the states agree. This report provides a guide to the importance of state-level commissions, procedures for their implementation, and practices that state commissions could address.

The Trump Administration Deals a Blow to Evidence-Based Policy

The Teen Pregnancy Prevention program aims to test and expand evidence-based models that are designed to address the ongoing challenge of teen pregnancy. With a modest investment of approximately $100 million annually and a strong commitment to high-quality, evidence-based approaches, the TPP program served nearly 500,000 teens in 39 states and Washington, DC, in its first round of projects and contributed significantly to building evidence. Despite the success of TPP, the Trump administration moved to divert this funding to pay for different projects the administration favored. The administration’s strategy of reducing spending on replicating well-tested programs and rigorously evaluating promising approaches that increase knowledge about what works for different communities and settings would be a major step backward for young people and the evidence movement.

Supporting Access to Opportunity with a Tiered-Evidence Grantmaking Approach

Research demonstrates that living in neighborhoods that are safe, healthy, and connected to highquality services, schools, and jobs can improve outcomes and economic mobility for children—if their families can afford to live in them. But how can we better understand which interventions most effectively support access to high-opportunity neighborhoods? And how can the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) target resources to those interventions? As one approach, this paper proposes that HUD adopt a tiered-evidence framework, which has been used by several other federal agencies. This approach encourages grantees to explicitly incorporate evidence building into their work by requiring evaluation and providing greater levels of funding for interventions with stronger evidence. By applying evaluative rigor to innovative approaches, this demonstration would build evidence about a broad portfolio of strategies and expand knowledge about what works to improve economic mobility for families and children. This paper begins by discussing the state of research on opportunity and giving an overview of tiered-evidence grantmaking. It then proposes a HUD “opportunity demonstration,” discussing evidence standards, criteria for grantees, examples from existing research, and other key aspects of the demonstration. This paper is part of the Evidence-Based Policymaking Collaborative, which leverages the expertise of researchers from the Urban Institute, Brookings Institution, American Enterprise Institute, and the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative to create tools to inform evidence-based policymaking efforts.

Tiered Evidence: What Happens when Evidence-Based Teen Pregnancy Programs Are Scaled-Up to New Sites?

If the evidence-based movement is to achieve success, it must demonstrate that model programs with strong evidence of producing impacts can be scaled-up to many new sites and continue having significant impacts on the social problems they are designed to solve. The July 2016 release of evaluations of 41 Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) programs by the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) was a major event in the attempt by the federal government to achieve scale-up. Examining the release carefully leads to a number of useful conclusions that hold promise for improving the federal scale-up process. Our review of results across the different types of projects begins with a general measure of the number and share of projects that produced at least one statistically significant impact on any of the seven measures of sexual behavior. This review is followed by a summary of impacts by projects on each of the seven individual measures of sexual behavior. In pondering these impacts, we raise six issues that are important not just for reflecting on this remarkable set of evaluations but also for a better understanding of the tiered-evidence strategy. We examine these issues and make recommendations because the tiered-evidence strategy has the potential to make the nation’s social policy more successful. The entire process of TPP grantmaking, project implementation, project evaluation, and project communication with researchers, policymakers, and the public provides a model for the future of federal grantmaking on social programs. However, if evidence-based policy is to fulfill its promise, the field cannot be satisfied with the level of impacts achieved by the TPP network. The vision of the field must be that programs supported by rigorous evidence will be developed to address and reduce the nation’s major social problems and to reliably produce impacts when implemented with fidelity in new settings.

To access the full list of Policy Briefs, visit

Associated researchers

Robert Doar
Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies
American Enterprise Institute (AEI)

Andrew R. Feldman
Visiting Fellow, Center on Children and Families
Brookings Institution

Ron Haskins
Senior Fellow, Economic Studies
Co-Director, Center on Children and Families
Brookings Institution

Justin Milner
Senior Research Associate
Director, Pay for Success Initiative and Evidence-Based Policymaking Collaborative
Urban Institute

Erika C. Poethig
Institute Fellow
Director, Urban Policy Initiatives
Urban Institute

Torey Silloway
Research Manager
Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative

Gary VanLandingham
Principal Officer
Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative

Advisory Group

Mary Ann Bates
Deputy Director
J-PAL North America

Sandy Davis
Senior Advisor
Bipartisan Policy Center

Frank Farrow
Center for the Study of Social Policy

Bill Hoagland
Senior Vice President
Bipartisan Policy Center

Patrick Lester
Social Innovation Research Center

David Medina
Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder
Results for America

Karen Pittman
President and CEO
The Forum for Youth Investment

Robert Shea
Principal, Public Sector
Grant Thornton LLP

Nicole Truhe
Director of Government Affairs
America Forward

Vivian Tseng
Vice President, Program
William T. Grant Foundation

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