WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Catholic Charities held their second annual Poverty Summit in Wichita falls. Their goal was to teach social services in this area how to insure their work is helping impoverished people long term.
CEO and President of Catholic Charities in Fort Worth Heather Reynolds said, "how do we take practitioners who are doing work with real people and combine it with academics who really want to study what makes a difference and what doesn't."
The keynote speaker was Bill Evans, the co-founder of the Lab for Economic Opportunities at Notre Dame. His research lab evaluates Catholic Charities' program called Stay the Course. It is a program for low income community college students in Tarrant County. They are assigned a personal navigator and emergency financial assistance for three years.
Evans' research lab has followed the students since 2013. He said, "There's a lot of programs, there's a lot of interventions that people are designing to move people out of poverty. What we're trying to do is make sure the programs actually are delivering as promised. You don't want to waste the limited resources you have on something that might not be moving people out of poverty."
Since 2013 enrollment rates have doubled and community college completion has quadrupled.
Catholic Charities wants to make sure all their programs show long term results for those they help, so they believe it is important to partner with researches like the Lab for Economic Opportunities. Reynolds said, "we who really want to impact lives and create real change can learn how research and evaluation can help us do that"