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An Overview of Research about What Works (and what doesn’t) in Social Service Programs

We know what works.  Contrary to the popular beliefs that nothing works or that everything works to solve tough community problems, we know that some things do work.  Decades of experience and research have identified strategies that are more effective than others at producing results and changing lives.  However, the sheer volume of this research is overwhelming.  The challenge to busy people trying to lead communities, mobilize citizens, and manage organizations is sorting through this wealth of riches for succinct and reliable information about promising solutions.  What We Know Works provides a foundation of effective practices for people who need information and who need it now.

This guide translates complex evaluation research into actionable strategies needed to build stronger communities.  What We Know Works is a primer that summarizes current research into four broad areas: healthy families and children, thriving neighborhoods, living-wage jobs, and viable economies.  These are issues of paramount concern to citizens and of critical importance to the future of all communities.  This resource provides a road map through the array of social service programs and a starting point to address discrete issues – from quality childcare to homelessness to downtown revitalization.

You can download the full 98 page report or peruse chapters (typically 10-12 pages in length) highlighting individual solutions.
Download Full Publication:
What We Know Works (1024k, PDF)
Download by Chapter:
I. Healthy Families and Children (228k, PDF)
II. Thriving Neighborhoods (348k, PDF)
III. Living-Wage Jobs (232k, PDF)
IV. Viable Economies (164k, PDF)
V. References (56k, PDF)
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