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Newsroom Press release

Open Society Foundations Grant Helps Move Americans from Poverty to Self Sufficiency

BETHESDA, MD—The Open Society Foundations awarded an $8 million grant to Abt Associates today to support efforts to identify effective models for helping low-income, low-skilled people become economically self-sufficient. The funds will enhance the work on a major federal project, Innovative Strategies for Increasing Self-Sufficiency (ISIS), commissioned by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to evaluate exemplary career pathway programs across the nation.

“Many commendable career pathway programs show great promise for improving low-income, low-skilled people’s lives, but they have not been rigorously evaluated,” said David Fein, director of ISIS and principal associate at Abt. “High-quality evaluation of these programs requires measuring their effects for sufficiently large numbers of participants. The grant makes the programs’ expansion and subsequent evaluation possible so we confidently can identify approaches that truly help people move out of poverty and into meaningful long-term careers.”

“The Open Society Foundation is supporting career pathway approaches that have the dramatic potential to improve the lives and self-sufficiency of many Americans,” said David A. Hansell, acting assistant secretary for ACF. “ISIS is emblematic of the Obama Administration’s commitment to supporting research on innovative solutions through the development of partnerships with state and local organizations, charitable foundations and the federal government. Thus, ISIS is an example of both what ought to be done and how, through collaboration, it can be accomplished.”

The populations targeted by the ISIS project often have multiple barriers to self-sufficiency, such as low literacy, debt, limited resources for additional schooling, and lack of childcare and transportation, according to Fein. The career pathway programs selected by the project for expansion and evaluation address the complexity of these barriers with the goal to lift as many people as possible out of poverty. Many take a holistic approach to helping people into the job market with strategies and support including education, job training, childcare and other resources and skill-building tools.

“Our hope is that the results of this project will increase opportunities for the most vulnerable populations. Everyone deserves a chance to reach his or her greatest potential and become a more active citizen,” said Mimi Corcoran, director of the Special Fund for Poverty Alleviation at the Open Society Foundations. “When more people are fully participating in our democracy, it’s good for all of us.”

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