Ford School, Survey Research Center faculty launch Youth Policy Lab to improve young lives

October 13, 2016

Researchers at the University of Michigan have launched a new lab designed to help state and local agencies, social service providers, nonprofits and educators improve life outcomes for Michigan youth, from birth through age 25.

The Youth Policy Lab is a hands-on initiative to support the growing demand for rigorous evidence about the likely outcomes of proposed policy interventions.

A partnership between the U-M's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the Survey Research Center at U-M's Institute of Social Research, the Youth Policy Lab is led by professors Brian Jacob and Susan Dynarski and associate research professor Robin Tepper Jacob.

"One of our goals is to merge education data with data in other domains—health, social welfare and criminal justice—to gain a more complete picture of Michigan youth, evaluate promising interventions, translate findings into concrete policies and, ultimately, improve life outcomes," Brian Jacob said. "The lab enables us to do this."

Through a competitive process, the lab will select organizations each year they will work with to provide pro bono technical assistance, including needs and feasibility assessments, analysis and evaluation, policy design, placement of an onsite technical expert, and support from content area and methodological experts.

"Michigan's public sector organizations provide critical services and we are excited to offer technical support to help bolster their capacity," Robin Jacob said.

The initiative, which builds upon the researchers' experience partnering with service providers and agencies to evaluate programs, is made possible by a $2.6 million grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

Release by Julie Monteiro de Castro (MPP '11), administrator and program manager, Youth Policy Lab and Education Policy Initiative.