The Thought Leadership Paper series launched in August 2012 as another path for Abt Associates’ talented staff to share their ideas with the world. The series includes working papers, white papers, and re-publications representing a rich diversity of thought leadership from across Abt Associates. Papers in the series undergo a peer review process.

A Second Look at "Harvest Box"
Jacob Alex Klerman and Lauren Olsho
April 2018

Without warning, the Trump administration’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget included a proposal to radically reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps. In recent years, SNAP has provided nutrition benefits via an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card—similar to a credit card—intended to reduce stigma and increase program participation relative to use of paper coupons. In sharp contrast, the administration’s “Harvest Box” proposal would replace about half of the dollar value of the SNAP benefit with a home-delivered, USDA-specified package. This paper gives the Harvest Box proposal careful consideration, drawing on existing literature to assess its likely impacts, and sketching a plan for a formal evaluation of the program’s feasibility and impact.

Global Health Security Threats: Are We Prepared?
Theodore M. Hammett, PhD
January 2017

In the past decade, the world has faced threatening outbreaks of Ebola, Zika, and pandemic influenza. Serious and unforeseen outbreaks of disease may occur naturally or result from or be exacerbated by human activity such as bioterrorism, anthropogenic climate change, laboratory or industrial incidents, or drug-resistant pathogens. Preventing, detecting, and responding to global health security threats requires a comprehensive strategy to protect both collective and individual health, which are closely interrelated. Moreover, the inclusion of the word “global” in the concept of global health security signifies that, in our ever more interconnected and interdependent world, what might appear initially to be the most localized events may in fact have profound international connections and implications.

Methods for Assessing What Drives Success in Locally-Driven Community Development Interventions
Amy Minzer and Jennifer Turnham
November 2016

Multi-site interventions can be challenging to evaluate, particularly when implementers are working toward localized outcomes. The diversity of intended outcomes makes it difficult to assess the overall effectiveness of the intervention. It also complicates stakeholders’ ability to identify drivers of implementation success. This is particularly true in the area of community development, where millions of dollars are invested annually in locally driven community development (LD-CD) interventions (i.e., national programs that are customized to community needs and implemented locally). This paper describes the challenges of evaluating these localized programs, and discusses practical methods for defining and measuring grantees’ relative success in this context. It concludes by discussing the implications of these methods for future evaluations in which funders allow grantees the freedom to implement program models in flexible ways driven by local needs.


Read more Thought Leadership Papers:

Key Factors in the Success of Public-Private Partnerships for Health and Economic Development Theodore M. Hammett, PhD October 2015
Estimating the Change in Ecosystem Service Values from Coastal Restoration Ann Speers, Elena Besedin, David Mitchell June 2015
Technical Assistance for Economic Governance: A Guide to Select, Develop, and Implement Economic Policy Projects Narciso Suárez, Lucía Gamboa February 2015
Making an Impact: Technical Assistance, Reporting Requirements and the Challenge of Improving Governance Tim Kessler January 2015
The Centers of Excellence Approach in the Dominican Republic: Empowering Teams to Improve Maternal and Neonatal Health Outcomes Elizabeth Conklin, Carlos Cuellar, and Alexandra Hulme November 2014
Empowering Vulnerable Populations to Build Resilience: Concept Note and Project-Based Applications Thierry van Bastelaer December 2014
A Review of Methods to Evaluate HIV Prevention Interventions for People Who Inject Drugs in Low- and Middle-income Countries: Methods, Gaps, Challenges and Opportunities Theodore M. Hammett, Ph.D., and Danielle S. Parsons-Smith, M.P.H. July 2014
How Much Money Should Be Set Aside for Accruals in HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration? Meryl Finkel May 2013
The Moving to Opportunity Demonstration’s Impact on Health and Well-being Among High Dosage Participants Shawn Moulton, Laura R. Peck, and Keri-Nicole Dillman February 2013
UI in the Early 21st Century Jacob Alex Klerman January 2013
What Works for Addressing the What Works Question in Field Experiments Laura R. Peck July 2012
Obstacles to and Limitations of Social Experiments: 15 False Alarms Stephen H. Bell & Laura R. Peck June 2012