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The Coalition for Evidence Based Policy

The Jerry Lee Foundation was the very first funder of the Washington DC-based Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy — a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization launched in 2001 to promote government policy based on rigorous evidence of program effectiveness. Since that time, JLF and the Coalition have built a strong track record of success in working with top Executive Branch and Congressional policymakers to advance evidence-based reforms in major U.S. social programs, as described below.

The Jerry Lee Foundation's partnership with the Coalition has resulted in important, concrete evidence-based reforms across a range of policy areas and programs. Illustrative examples include the following:

  • The Coalition's work with the Department of Education helped create the Investing in Innovation Fund

    This program is designed to fund development and scale-up of evidence-based K-12 educational strategies. This $650 million fund was adopted as part of the 2009 Recovery Act, with $150 million in funding in FY11. The Coalition worked directly with the Department of Education in recommending funding guidelines.

  • Their work with Congress and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) helped create a new evidence-based home visitation program in the FY 08 Appropriations Act (Public Law 110-161)

    This $1.5 billion program provides seed money to scale up home visitation models "shown, in well-designed randomized controlled trials, to produce sizeable, sustained effects on important child outcomes such as abuse and neglect." The Coalition helped support OMB's development of this program, and Jerry Lee and the Coalition worked with Congress to help gain funding and ensure a focus on research-proven models.

  • Their work with Congress has yielded important increases in Congressional support for randomized controlled trials in education, crime prevention, and other areas

    For example, based on their input the Second Chance Act, signed into law in April 2008 to facilitate the re-entry of prisoners into the community, contains a 2% set-aside for rigorous — preferably randomized — evaluations to determine which re-entry strategies and models are truly effective. Through their work with the Congressional education committees since 2002, they have helped obtain tens of millions of dollars in increased Congressional funding for rigorous research in K-12 education, and a strong Congressional endorsement of randomized controlled trials in education.

  • The Jerry Lee Foundation and the Coalition launched an effort, which has been reviewed by Congress, to identify and validate social programs meeting "top tier" evidence of effectiveness

    Congress' "Top Tier" evidence standard, which was set out in recent legislative provisions, is "well-designed randomized controlled trials showing sizeable, sustained effect on important outcomes" (Public Laws 110-161 and 111-8). This standard is consistent with the long-standing FDA standard as a condition for licensing a new pharmaceutical drug or medical device.

    The Coalition and the Jerry Lee Foundation have engaged an expert panel to identify Top Tier programs through a systematic review process. Jerry Lee was instrumental in bringing this initiative to the attention of key members of Congress, who expressed a strong interest in the effort and, in April 2008, officially requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to monitor and assess the project, and report on its validity. In 2009, the GAO assessment confirmed the initiative's adherence to rigorous standards and overall transparency. GAO's favorable review has this project well-positioned to become a uniquely authoritative — and potentially pivotal — resource for Congressional, federal agency, and state and local policymakers. The Coalition for Evidence Based Policy is now part of the Arnold Ventures Philantropies.

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