Researching Racism and Inequality

Structural racism in the United States is a historic and ongoing threat to the lives of people of color, particularly for Black Americans. It has undermined American systems of criminal justice, health care, education, employment, and the social safety net meant to protect the most vulnerable among us. Repairing the damage will be the collective work of a nation.

For our part, we are a company dedicated to leveraging the power of data and evidence to inform policy decisions that lead to positive social change. This has been Mathematica’s work for decades—from the study of basic income that launched us to more recent examples of our research on racial disparities and other inequalities. Together with partners in the public and private sectors, we’re proud to offer relevant research and analysis that can document gaps in resources and opportunities, respond with evidence-based solutions, and illuminate a path to progress.



Launching the Right Time Initiative: A Baseline Evaluation and Learning Report for a Comprehensive and Equity-Focused Reproductive Health Strategy in Missouri (2020)

Missouri Foundation for Health launched The Right Time (TRT) in 2019 to increase contraceptive access and use to ensure women and families living in Missouri are empowered in their own health care decisions. This study sheds light on TRT's emphasis on achieving health equity, specifically achieving equitable access and outcomes for all women, regardless of income, race or ethnicity, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, and age.


Regional Partnership Grants National Cross-Site Evaluation (2020)

Partnerships between providers of child welfare services, substance abuse disorder treatment, and other social services can enhance the safety and well-being of children who are in, or might be at risk of, out-of-home placement.


Learning Collaboratives to Support the Development of High-Performing State Health Coverage Programs (2020)

State and federal agencies are entering into Learning Collaboratives with the goal of increasing medical care and coverage for former foster-care youth and for justice-involved populations.


Race Discrimination: An Economic Perspective (2020)

A review of economics literature that focuses on discrimination and disparities in the labor market and in the criminal justice system.


Data Across Sectors for Health (DASH) (2019)

DASH is one of several initiatives in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF’s) ongoing efforts to build a Culture of Health and promote health equity. This formative evaluation report includes initial results from cross-sector data sharing that were used to identify trends and patterns at the community level and address social determinants of health.


Developing a Policy Research Agenda for Low-Income Families with Young Children (2019)

In partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we explored the equity-based policy changes necessary to help children from under-resourced communities thrive.


The New Economy and Child Care: Nonstandard-Hour Work, Child Care, and Child Health and Well-Being (2019)

The round-the-clock nature of the new economy raises considerations for child care and child well-being. This study reveals how public child care assistance programs can offer a critical safety net for working parents with lower incomes (and nonstandard work hours) by helping them afford quality child care.


Supporting the Fatherhood Journey: Online Report Shares Findings from the Parents and Children Together Evaluation (2019)

Our multiyear study of programs designed to help fathers living on low incomes improve their parenting skills concludes with this report featuring commentary from program participants.


How Does School Choice Affect Racial Integration? (2019)

We partnered with the Walton Family Foundation to uncover evidence about how school choice options— including charter schools, vouchers, magnet schools, and district-wide choice— affect the racial and economic integration of students.


Methods for Assuring Access to Covered Medicaid Services (2019)

A report on using targeted technical support to help states better serve Medicaid clients.


Building the Evidence Base on Programs That Support Family and Child Well-Being (2018)

A look at projects—some ongoing—that we’ve worked on with the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation to address the pressing challenges facing families with low income.


Colorado Department of Corrections Reentry Systems Mapping (2018)

This report examines and documents pre- and post-release services provided to formerly incarcerated individuals in Colorado and the frequency of recidivism for those who receive reentry support.


Informal Child Care in Detroit (2017)

In partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we reviewed the landscape of informal child care options for families living on low incomes in Detroit, as well as ways to support caregivers.


Workforce Investment Act Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs Gold Standard Evaluation (2017)

Two of the nation’s largest publicly funded employment and training programs are the Adult and Dislocated Worker programs. Over the course of a decade, we evaluated their effectiveness.


Are High- and Low-Income Students Taught by Equally Effective Teachers? (2016)

To better understand the factors that influence students’ access to good teachers, we studied the number and effectiveness of teachers hired by high- and low-poverty schools.


Improving Outcomes for Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System (2016)

In partnership with the Urban Institute, we researched local and state policy aimed at decreasing the number of youth offenders placed outside of their homes in institutions, boot camps, residential treatment centers, and group homes. 


Human Services for Low-Income and At-Risk LGBT Populations: Research Recommendations on Programs for Youth (2015)

This brief funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services presents recommendations created as part of the Research Development Project on the Human Service Needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Populations.


Housing for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care (2014)

In a study for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, we looked at the housing options available to former foster youth and offered recommendations for future research and policy.


The Economic Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care (2013)

This brief looks at the well-being of LGBTQ young people aging out of foster care, comparing their economic self-sufficiency to that of their heterosexual peers.


Using Vouchers to Deliver Social Services: Learning from the Goals, Uses, and Key Elements of Existing Federal Voucher Programs (2007)

A summary of the use and effectiveness of vouchers in public programs.


Providing Work Opportunities and Support for TANF Recipients with Disabilities (2007)

This report examines ways to help states better meet the complex needs of people with disabilities who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits.


The Rationale and Potential Consequences of the Revised WIC Food Packages (2007)

Thirty-five years after the program launched, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) revised its food packages. In this report, we evaluate the reasons for the changes and their potential effects.


Paths to Work in Rural Places: Key Findings and Lessons from the Impact Evaluation of the Future Steps Rural Welfare-to-Work Program (2006)

The Rural Welfare-to-Work Strategies demonstration focused on helping families with low incomes in rural areas find employment and achieve self-sufficiency. This report focuses on program outcomes in southern Illinois.


Dietary Effects of Universal-Free School Breakfast: Findings from the Evaluation of the School Breakfast Program Pilot Project (2006)

This experimental study looked at the effects of offering free school breakfast to elementary school students regardless of family income.


The National Evaluation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program (2004)

We studied the outcomes achieved and challenges faced by alumni of federal welfare-to-work programs.


Welfare Policy in Transition: Redefining the Social Contract for Poor Citizen Families with Children and for Immigrants (2002)

Four decades after the United States declared a war on poverty, the authors of this study looked at how poor and immigrant populations were faring, as well as the effectiveness of government programs. 


Food Stamp Time Limits: A Burdensome Policy that Weakens the Safety Net (2002)

The authors of this study explore the problems stemming from a policy intended to encourage people to move into the workforce.


Food Insufficiency, Family Income, and Health in U.S. Preschool and School-Age Children (2001)

This study documented a connection between hunger and poor health among children from families living on low incomes.


Providing Mental Health Services to TANF Recipients: Program Design Choices and Implementation Challenges in Four States (2001)

In this study, we looked at the efforts of four states—Florida, Oregon, Tennessee, and Utah—to address the mental health concerns that can be a barrier to employment for welfare recipients.


Hunger in America: 2001 National Report Prepared for America’s Second Harvest (2001)

This report, the largest and most comprehensive examination of Americans who seek emergency food relief and the charitable network that serves them, notes that more than 23 million people received emergency hunger relief from Second Harvest in 2001.


Child Welfare Agencies Need to Leverage Data During the COVID-19 Crisis (2020) 

How can child welfare agencies protect children they are unable to see in person because of pandemic restrictions? Senior Researcher Allon Kalisher and Brady Birdsong, manager of BerryDunn, explore the use of predictive modeling to spot potential risk.

Life Coaching at Oakland Unite: A Promising Strategy for Helping Young People Involved in the Juvenile Justice System (2020) 

This episode of our On the Evidence podcast focuses on life coaching as a strategy to reduce violence.

Supporting Families to Foster Children’s Safety and Well-Being (2020) 

Senior Researcher Debra Strong and Elaine Stedt, director of the Children’s Bureau Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, explain the potential of Regional Partnership Grants to provide wraparound family services.

What Being Trauma Informed Can Tell Us in This Time of Crisis (2020) 

Researchers Joe Baker and Amanda Lechner look to past research for lessons on helping vulnerable populations in the time of COVID-19.

Using Culturally Responsive Practices to Foster Learning During School Closures: Challenges and Opportunities for Equity (2020) 

Researcher Steven Malick looks at the opportunities that distance learning creates for schools and families to work together, opening the door to more culturally responsive practices.

COVID-19 Revealed Longstanding Problems in Our Social Safety Net. It’s Time to Address Them. (2020) 

Matt Stagner, our director of human services research, writes that for the social services sector, the pandemic is a wake-up call.

Building the Pipeline of Black Women in Economics (2020) 

In 2019, we hosted the first Sadie T.M. Alexander Conference, a forum to discuss the opportunity gap faced by Black women in economics and related fields. A year later, we asked the organizers if progress was being made.

Creating a Gender-Equal and Equitable World (2020) 

Senior Researcher Candace Miller spotlights work from activists for gender equality whom she has met around the world.

The Future Is Now: Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander (2020)

Director of Foundation Engagement Kimberlin Butler recounts the legacy of Dr. Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, “one of the most notable figures in Black History you’ve probably never heard of.”

Exclusionary Discipline Is “Free”: How Federal Policymakers Can Promote Positive Approaches to School Discipline (2019)

Senior Researcher Lauren Amos shares her professional expertise, and personal experience, with racial disparities in school discipline.

Addressing Food Insecurity Both In and Out of School (2019)

Ronette Briefel, a senior fellow and nutritionist, summarizes the testimony she gave before the Maryland State Senate on policy to ensure year-round food security for children receiving free and reduced school meals.

Finding New Ways to Listen to What the Evidence Tells Us (2019)

A team of Mathematica researchers shares lessons learned by working in close partnership with American Indian and Alaska Native experts and elders.

Addressing Racial Equity in Higher Education (2019)

Senior Researcher Julie Bruch looks at the promise of statewide initiatives aimed at making higher education more diverse and equitable.


Does School Choice Leave Anyone Behind? (2019)

Together with the Walton Family Foundation, we presented a forum comparing the experiences of children in district schools with those of their peers who take advantage of school choice options.

Improving Educational Equity Through Culturally Responsive Schools (2020)

A four-part webinar series from our partners at the Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic looks at ways to build more diverse and equitable schools through the practice of culturally responsive education.

Nothing About Us Without Us (2019)

We brought together a diverse panel of experts from academia, philanthropy, and government for this conversation on fostering equity and cultural responsiveness in the areas of research and evaluation.

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