News: Featured Stories

Constituent activists and On Solid Ground Coalition discuss cliff effects and employment at CSP’s Research Symposium.
October 8, 2015

Center for Social Policy Receives $500K Grant


  • Boston

The Center for Social Policy (CSP) in the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston received nearly a half a million dollar grant from the Oak Foundation to conduct a three-year project aimed at increasing the economic stability of Massachusetts families.

Poor families who work typically rely on a mix of wages and public supports to survive. Under current policies, modest increases in wages lead to a decline, and in some cases an elimination, of many public work supports. This loss of government supports, referred to as the “cliff effect,” often starts well before income levels are high enough to meet basic needs. Thus, families who improve their earnings typically face a situation where their public supports are sharply reduced, resulting in them being worse off. In addition, the eligibility criteria and application process for different programs are vastly different, creating confusion and inefficiencies.

CSP Senior Fellow and Professor of Economics Randy Albelda explains, “Employment and government programs should work together to boost people out of poverty and into economic security. Currently, that is not the case.” 

The project has four main objectives:

  1. to analyze the points where existing programs are not working effectively and fix the transition from subsidy to employment that often results in people being worse off;
  2. to recommend program design options aimed at families with low earnings;
  3. to define effective state policies that target families on the edge of homelessness and determine appropriate intervention policies; and
  4. to track the progress of state agencies and their nonprofit partners in adopting policies and to develop programs that reduce family homelessness and create economic security for low-income families.

CSP is the research partner for the On Solid Ground Coalition, which is a cross-sector partnership of more than 50 organizations committed to a research-based approach to increasing housing stability and economic security. This cross-policy action research project is distinguished by its broad approach in examining and seeking changes in multiple causal factors impacting economic instability and its fundamental commitment to researching the direct experience of families who interact with the public system. The results of CSP’s research will be provided to the On Solid Ground coalition as evidence to support changes in the systems affecting the lives of people in poverty.

The Center for Social Policy is a research and evaluation think tank of choice for policy makers, funders, and business leaders focused on the root causes of poverty. Based in the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, CSP's research and evaluation work advances community-driven systems change and social and employment policies. Core to its unique approach is that knowledge is built from the ground up, by working collaboratively and conducting research grounded in and informed by the experience of people living in poverty.

To keep up with the latest happenings and receive in-depth research and analysis coverage on this and our other path-breaking research, join CSP's mailing list.