Jilke and his McCourt cohorts will sort through the suggested programs and select those for rigorous experiments that meet strict criteria under the Arnold Ventures grant. “The programs must be appropriate for a very strong experimental design,” notes Jilke. “Number two, the evaluation needs to be of an important social program with outcomes that change people’s lives like educational attainment, income, earnings, child maltreatment and government spending. It should be a trial that is either based on highly promising prior evidence or be a program that has significant taxpayer investment for which the outcomes of the program are yet unknown. And that holds true for many of the federal programs, fortunately.”
After this process takes place, the McCourt researchers will shepherd fully developed proposals through Arnold Ventures to fund significant multi-year evaluations spanning three to five years. The ultimate goal? “These evaluations will lead to changes that improve the ways government delivers services to its inhabitants and therefore make real improvements in their quality of life,” concludes Jilke.