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April 14, 2016

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The following post was written by, Jessica Crawford, Director of Strategic Partnerships at America Forward, and Nicole Truhe, Director of Government Affairs at America Forward.

In the first two blog posts in this series, we have provided high level overviews of both the Federal budget and appropriations processes and America Forward’s funding priorities in the context of these processes. To close out this series, we will provide deeper dives into specific programs or categories of programs that are priorities for America Forward and our Coalition members. In today’s post, we will discuss the innovation and evidence priorities that we think are particularly important for Congress to support.


Innovation, outcomes, and evidence are themes that have been included in a number of pieces of legislation and have been supported in the appropriations process by both Republicans and Democrats. The President has also consistently included outcomes and evidence-based priorities in his budgets and the FY17 budget is no exception. A comprehensive overview of the President’s evidence and innovation related priorities in his FY17 budget are outlined here.


At America Forward, we believe that policy decision should be driven by evidence and that those programs that are showcasing positive impacts and outcomes should be supported and scaled. The push to be more evidence-based and outcomes-driven is not a government only focus. This is a movement that America Forward, our member organizations, and our broader network of philanthropists, advocates, business leaders, and others have supported for a number of years.


This shift towards innovative approaches that are grounded in data and evidence is taking hold across issue areas and the movement has positively impacted lives and communities across this country. That is why the America Forward Coalition is particularly supportive of ensuring that programs that spur innovation, reward results, and catalyze cross-sector partnerships to propel America forward are resourced appropriately.


Programs and initiatives that use evidence in the testing of promising approaches as well as the scaling of interventions in the education, workforce, economic mobility, and criminal justice spaces, to name a few, are priorities for America Forward. Efforts that support the collection, analysis, and use of data to improve programs across the human and social services space are also areas where America Forward strongly advocates for resources. Finally, programs that authorize the use of federal funds to be used flexibly to achieve specific outcomes and allow federal funds to be used in Pay for Success contracting arrangements are aligned with our mission and policy priorities.


The specific requests below reflect these priorities and we believe help to ensure that evidence and innovation are prioritized in the FY17 federal budget.


Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies
Department of Education

  • $180 million for the Education, Innovation, and Research (EIR) to increase the number of high-quality applications to build evidence of effectiveness and to demonstrate the feasibility of scaling effective interventions, including support for ARPA-ED, to spur the development of educational technology necessary to personalize learning.
  • $100 million for First in the World to encourage innovation in higher education necessary to tackle and improve college completion rates, increase the productivity of higher education, build evidence of what works, and scale up proven strategies.
  • $15 million for the InformED initiative at the Institute of Education Sciences to support efforts that will collect, analyze, and release data and evaluation studies, for internal users and the public, to answer pressing education questions.

Department of Labor

  • $1.33 billion for major formula funds under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), including the adult, youth, and dislocated worker funding streams and $3.2 million for WIOA technical assistance to provide resources to support state implementation of WIOA.
  • $500 million for the creation of a Workforce Data Science and Innovation Fund to address the quality of workforce related data in order to improve training programs and consumer choice.

General Provisions- Departments of Labor and Education

  • Continued authority for Performance Partnership Pilots to award up to 10 new pilots that allow States, tribes and localities to blend certain discretionary funding in order to improve education, employment and other key outcomes for vulnerable youth.

Corporation for National and Community Service

  • 70 million for the Social Innovation Fund to test promising new approaches to major social challenges and to expand evidence-based programs that demonstrate measureable outcomes. This includes the allowable use of up to 20 percent of funds for Pay for Success projects.

Financial Services and General Government

  • $300 million for Pay for Success Incentive Fund at Department of Treasury to help state and local governments implement Pay for Success programs with philanthropies, nonprofits, and other nongovernmental organizations.
  • Support the creation of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking proposed by Congress in 2014 and again in 2015 that would make recommendations for how to use current administrative data and how to make additional administrative data available for evaluation by Federal and outside researchers.

Transportation, Housing, Urban Development and Related Agencies

  • $1.5 billion for new Upward Mobility Project to allow ten States and localities to test and validate promising approaches to help families become more self-sufficient, improve children’s outcomes, and revitalize communities. This initiative includes new funding as well as the flexibility to combine funds from four existing block grants to achieve these important objectives.

Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies

  • $20 million for the new Smart on Juvenile Justice Initiative to award incentive grants to assist states in fostering better outcomes for justice-involved youth.
  • $120 million for the Second Chance Act Program to provide grants to establish and expand adult and juvenile offender reentry programs to reduce recidivism and help those exiting the justice system to rejoin their communities and lead productive lives, including $20 million for Pay for Success projects to provide awards for supporting housing using performance-based metrics.
  • $30 million for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative to support states and localities in using a data-driven approach to improve public safety, reduce corrections spending, and to reinvest savings in effective strategies to decrease crime.

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