Road Maps for Change: Youth-Serving HMRE Grant Recipients' Rapid Cycle Learning in the SIMR Project

Road Maps for Change: Youth-Serving HMRE Grant Recipients' Rapid Cycle Learning in the SIMR Project

SIMR Practice Brief, OPRE Report #2023-066
Published: Mar 31, 2023
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Associated Project

Strengthening the Implementation of Marriage and Relationship Programs

Time frame: 2019-2022

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation


Lauren Mattox

Mark Ezzo

Alisha Jordan

Key Findings

In SIMR, each grant recipient developed and tested improvement strategies tailored to their specific needs, service populations, and individual contexts, using an approach to program improvement and rapid cycle learning known as Learn, Innovate, Improve (LI2). Through their work with the SIMR team, grant recipients:

  • Addressed pressing implementation challenges: One grant recipient focused on improving recruitment, while four others focused on topics related to improving content engagement.
  • Increased their capacity to collect and use data to inform decision-making: Through rapid cycle learning, grant recipient staff administered feedback surveys to participants, tracked recruitment data, and analyzed social media analytics. They then reviewed these data with the SIMR team and developed insights to refine their improvement strategies.
  • Developed skills for identifying and responding to emerging implementation challenges: At the end of each learning cycle, the SIMR team met with grant recipients to review and interpret data and determine next steps. When new challenges emerged, grant recipients were able to pivot to address them in later learning cycles.
  • Developed tools and strategies to support strong implementation through the rest of the grant period: Grant recipients developed promising tools and strategies to support facilitators, enhance case management, recruit youth from rural areas, and encourage peer and staff-participant relationships. At the end of SIMR, the grant recipients planned to continue using these tools and strategies.

In the SIMR project, Mathematica and its partner, Public Strategies, collaborated with 10 HMRE grant recipients—five youth-serving grant recipients and five adult-serving grant recipients—to conduct iterative rapid cycle testing aimed at strengthening their services. SIMR focused on common implementation challenges related to recruitment, retention, and content engagement.

SIMR had two main goals:

  1. to improve the service delivery of these grant recipients
  2. to develop lessons for the broader HMRE field about promising practices for addressing common implementation challenges

This brief presents five infographics—one for each of the youth-serving grant recipients who participated in SIMR—called “Road Maps for Change.” These infographics present the strategies that each grant recipient focused on in SIMR, how they changed over the course of rapid cycle learning, and lessons and insights for the field.

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