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Early findings from New York City’s conditional cash transfer program

In 2007, New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity launched Opportunity NYC: Family Rewards, an experimental, privately funded, conditional cash transfer (CCT) program to help families break the cycle of poverty. CCT programs offer cash assistance to reduce immediate hardship, but condition these transfers on families’ efforts to build up their “human capital,” often by developing the education and skills that may reduce their poverty over the longer term. Family Rewards is the first comprehensive CCT program in a developed country.

Aimed at low-income families in six of New York City’s highest-poverty communities, Family Rewards ties cash rewards to prespecified activities and outcomes in children’s education, families’ preventive health care, and parents’ employment. The three-year program is being operated by Seedco—a private, nonprofit intermediary organization—in partnership with six community-based organizations. It is being evaluated by MDRC through a randomized control trial involving approximately 4,800 families and 11,000 children, half of whom can receive the cash incentives if they meet the required conditions, and half who have been assigned to a control group that cannot receive the incentives. This brief summarizes an MDRC report on initial findings during the program’s early operating period.


Child Poverty, Children, Early Childhood Care & Education, Economic Support, Education & Training, Family & Partnering, Financial Security, K-12 Education, Parenting