2020: Envisioning Universal Measures of Economic Mobility

Annual Poverty Research and Policy Forum Virtual Series
One Destination, Many Roads:
Envisioning Universal Measures of Economic Mobility

September 9 & 16, 2020

Convened by the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison
Supported by the Office of Human Services Policy, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Background Material

September 9, 2020

Katherine Magnuson, Director, Institute for Research on Poverty
Brenda Destro and/or Jennifer Burnszynski, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
1:15 – 1:35 KEYNOTE
Dr. Robert M. Goerge, Senior Research Fellow, Chapin Hall, University of Chicago
Slide presentation
1:35 – 2:55 PRESENTATIONS AND PANEL DISCUSSION: State Lessons for Federal Efforts 

Moderator: Kosar Jahani, Project Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Maryland, Christina Church, Two-Generation Program Officer, Maryland Department of Human Service [Slide Presentation]
  • Utah, Tracy Gruber, Senior Advisor for the Utah Intergenerational Poverty Initiative [Slide Presentation]
  • Washington, David Mancuso, Director of the Research and Data Analysis Division, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services [Slide Presentation]
  • Colorado, Ki’i Powell, Director of the Office of Economic Security, Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) [Slide Presentation]
2:55 – 3:00 WRAP-UP/CLOSING
Katherine Magnuson, Director, Institute for Research on Poverty

September 16, 2020

Katherine Magnuson, Director, Institute for Research on Poverty
1:05 – 1:25 KEYNOTE
Ted McCann, Vice President, American Idea Foundation
Slide Presentation
1:25 – 1:55 BREAKOUT GROUP DISCUSSIONS: Incorporating Stakeholder Perspectives
1:55 – 2:50 PANEL DISCUSSION: Establishing a Roadmap for the Path Forward 

Moderator: Nick Hart, President of the Data Foundation and CEO of the Data Coalition
  • Julia Lane, Provostial Fellow for Innovation Analytics; Professor, NYU Wagner School or Public Policy and Co-founder of the Coleridge Initiative
  • Sara Dube, Project Director, The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Results First Initiative
  • David Williams, Director of Policy Outreach, Opportunity Insights
2:50 – 3:00 WRAP-UP/CLOSING
Katherine Magnuson, Director, Institute for Research on Poverty


Federal workforce and human services programs often measure specific program targets rather than shared progress on overarching participant outcomes related to economic mobility. As a result, there is limited evidence of the extent to which these programs promote self-sufficiency and economic mobility, and program silo-ing is reinforced. This forum presents a unique opportunity to convene stakeholders and expertise from the practitioner, policymaking, and research communities to learn from one another, exchange ideas, and begin the hard work of developing a plan to address this gap.

The challenges of committing to shared outcomes and collecting data to measure them are well-documented, but they are not impossible to overcome. Indeed, localities and organizations are developing innovative strategies on data collection and integration for the purposes of measuring and reporting outcomes across programs to improve their own performance and transparency. Their experiences yield valuable lessons that may help to guide federal efforts. This forum is a foundational element of that learning process and will directly inform the work of the recently-established U.S. Interagency Council on Economic Mobility, which is cultivating a shared understanding of the current environment for the measurement of program outcomes related to economic mobility and building a roadmap for the path forward.

Goals And Objectives

  1. Make a case for the value of measuring and reporting common outcomes across public programs that promote economic mobility. Demonstrate the value to participants, program administrators, policy makers, and the public despite no requirements to do so.
  2. Showcase and consider best practices for how to measure and report common outcomes across programs by learning from states and localities that are engaged in measurement and reporting of common outcomes.
  3. Help to establish a vision for achieving shared outcome measures across federal human services and workforce programs: discuss strategies, define ideal outcome metrics, identify stakeholder needs and priorities, and envision perceived opportunities and barriers.
  4. Begin building a five-year work plan for the U.S. Interagency Council on Economic Mobility work on aligning program outcomes data and identify emerging next steps.