Publication Date

June 2013

Keywords

Service learning, community-engaged scholarship, human services, program evaluation

Disciplines

Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Public Affairs | Public Policy | Social Policy | Social Welfare | Urban Studies and Planning

Abstract

LIFT-Boston, a local non-profit organization, entered into a collaborative partnership in September 2012 with McCormack Graduate School Public Policy Ph.D. students and faculty to develop and execute a research project. The goals of this endeavor were to assist LIFT-Boston in understanding the outcomes associated with its services and enable the organization to further pursue service goals.

The primary research questions respond to the organization’s most fundamental questions. These include how the organization’s unique service model impacts clients across several objective and subjective dimensions of well-being. Secondary questions focus on how these impacts may translate into increases or decreases in student achievement within a family. To answer these lines of inquiry, the MPT employed a multi-method design, analyzing administrative, survey, observational, interview, spatial, and focus group data.

Findings show that LIFT clients tend to be adults, aged 45 years or older and more than 50% of LIFT-Boston clients live alone. Nearly half of LIFT-Boston client are unemployed with nearly 67% receiving food stamp benefits. Besides employment, LIFT-Boston clients report problems with housing and housing expenses. Regression results show that LIFT-Boston may increase objective client well-being in housing and food stamp assistance, showing increase of 17.5% in food stamp receipt for LIFT-Boston clients and an 18.6% decrease in housing issues.

Overall, findings suggest that LIFT-Boston offers a unique set of services to adult clients in the Boston area. Clients experience caring and respectful relationships when collaborating with LIFT advocates. While limited changes in objective well-being were observed, interviews suggest that clients’ self-confidence is greatly increased when small steps are made toward larger life goals. Limited evidence suggests adult well-being may translate to students, although much deeper analysis is needed.

While a low survey response rate must be considered when interpreting findings, this report contributes to the scholarly knowledge based in areas including strength based case management, subjective/objective well-being measures, and student achievement. Steps for further scholarly research, as well as potential organizational changes for LIFT-Boston, are suggested.

 
 

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