Impact Evaluation of Bridges to Success
More than 43 million people in the United States live in poverty. Poverty is particularly pervasive in the city of Rochester, NY where rates are more than twice the national average. The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI), in partnership with the New York Governor's State Anti-Poverty Task Force, is piloting a targeted program designed to reduce poverty in the Rochester-Monroe region. Extensive community research led RMAPI to pilot an adult mentor/navigator program that addresses the issues identified as pervasive in the city of Rochester: a knowledge gap about available services and how to navigate them, and a need for coordinated services. In order to measure the pilot's success and make decisions about scaling the program up, RMAPI has asked the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) from the University of Notre Dame to run a randomized evaluation of the pilot program, Bridges to Success (BTS). This evaluation will test the hypothesis that providing a professional mentor/navigator program in a targeted area of concentrated poverty will increase economic mobility for program participants, resulting in improved self-sufficiency. Results from this study will inform policy decisions to scale up and expand the program in the city of Rochester, and will be disseminated to policy makers and providers in other regions to inform the design or replication of future anti-poverty initiatives. This project received full evaluation funding in Spring 2017.