Panel Paper: Grantee-Led Evaluations: Lessons Learned from the Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovation Fund

Thursday, November 8, 2018
Madison A - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Rachel Cook, Siobhan Mills, Julie A. Williams and Eliza G Kean, Abt Associates, Inc.

The U.S. Department of Labor has made significant investments supporting innovative service delivery strategies and systems efforts for improving education, training and employment outcomes for adults and youth through a grant initiative - Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF). WIF grantees sought to remove barriers and improve systems to support better service delivery and lower costs for workforce systems, and included third-party evaluations to document the implementation of the grant approaches and to rigorously assess whether these approaches improved participant outcomes and were able to change systems for serving job seekers. The national evaluation coordinator for this grant initiative will present syntheses of the findings from these third-party evaluations to be able to draw key lessons on the implementation of the strategies tested and review the evidence on the outcomes and impacts of these approaches on participants’ education/training attainment and employment. This session will also highlight the design and methodology for conducting the syntheses, especially in addressing the challenge of synthesizing findings from many evaluations assessing multifaceted projects with a wide variety of designs and using many different evaluation methods.

The presentation will also offer lessons learned from the first round of 26 WIF grants that were awarded in 2012 and final evaluation reports completed by the end of 2016, and will summarize the implementation, outcome and impact findings from the evaluation reports. It will highlight the methods used to synthesize report findings, especially challenging for the wide range of interventions tested, target populations, and evaluation approaches. The presentation will also discuss common strengths and challenges of the research designs and reports, and patterns and themes that emerged from the synthesis of reports. Finally, the presentation will discuss the most common technical assistance needs experienced by WIF grantees and evaluators, as well as lessons learned from grantee-led evaluations that can be applied to future similar efforts.