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June 8, 2015 / Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Using the scientific method to fight poverty

An emerging movement in the fight against poverty relies on the scientific method to discover what works, what doesn’t work, and why, when it comes to social programs. (WSJ, 6/5)

Just as health care has been modernized by “evidence-based medicine” and professional sports by the rigorous statistical analysis that inspired Michael Lewis’s book “Moneyball,” bands of upstarts in the world of anti-poverty policy are applying the scientific method to their own work.

Many of these poverty fighters call themselves “randomistas,” after the randomized controlled trials that are at the heart of their methods. In such field experiments, people are randomly assigned either to a treatment group that receives an “intervention” or to a control group that does not. The experimenters meticulously collect and analyze data, then try to replicate the results elsewhere to see if they hold up.

PHILANTHROPY/WRAG | In her latest blog post, WRAG president Tamara Copeland responds to a recent NY Times op-ed on the lack of oversight of philanthropy. (Daily, 6/8)

HOUSING | Despite the common opposition affordable housing developments built within or near wealthy communities often receive, studies show the fears of lower property values, higher crime rates, and more, often never come to fruition. (Atlantic, 6/2)

– A number of students in the District fight the odds to remain in school while also dealing with homelessness and extreme poverty. Some schools have developed partnerships to better serve those students and their families. (NPR, 6/7)

– The Truth Behind Your State’s High School Graduation Rates (NPR, 6/7)

Inequitable school funding called ‘one of the sleeper civil rights issues of our time’ (WaPo, 6/8)

MARYLAND/ECONOMY | In Prince George’s County, a new Whole Foods grocery store means further development and public interest in the county, for better or for worse. (WaPo, 6/7)

FOOD | In an effort to expand access to affordable, nutritious foods, the former president of the grocery chain Trader Joe’s has opened a nonprofit grocery store that sells aging and surplus foods in a low- to middle- income neighborhood of Boston. If successful, the model could spread to other cities. (NPR, 6/4)

AGING/VIRGINIA | When it comes to the best places in America for retirees, residents in the Washington region don’t need to go far. Alexandria and Arlington ranked number two in a list of the best places to retire. (WTOP, 6/8)

Welcome to the real world, Barbie.

– Ciara

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