Results for America and Mathematica Release New Tool to Assess How Leaders Are Using Evidence, Data, and Public Engagement to Increase the Impact of their American Rescue Plan Funds
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Results for America and Mathematica released a new tool – the ARP Data and Evidence Dashboard – which highlights how local governments are investing their American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds, including assessing how they are using evidence and data, tracking outcomes, engaging with the public, and ensuring an equitable recovery for their residents.
The dashboard – based on an analysis of Recovery Plan Performance Reports from 150 cities, counties, and tribal nations across the country – provides an early glimpse of these jurisdictions’ funding priorities as well as how policymakers are implementing five key data, evidence, and outcomes provisions, articulated in guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department, to maximize the impact of their ARP investments.
The American Rescue Plan provides $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to states, territories, cities, counties, and tribal governments to make critical investments in people and infrastructure. Counties will receive up to $65.1 billion and cities with populations over 250,000 will receive $45.6 billion.
“The dashboard spotlights how innovative local leaders are seizing this historic opportunity and using evidence and data to accelerate economic mobility and racial equity,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and Co-Founder of Results for America. “We hope this tool will help policymakers at every level of government increase the impact of these once-in-a-generation investments.”
“The dashboard provides a novel and systematic look at how a wide range of local governments are allocating ARP funds so they can compare and connect with other localities,” said Candace Miller, a principal researcher at Mathematica. “We wanted to give busy administrators and their partners a tool that inspires them to implement evidence-based interventions that fundamentally improve the lives of their residents.”
As local governments begin allocating the first tranche of their federal recovery funds, the dashboard tracked early trends in how these 150 jurisdictions are committing their resources:
- COVID Response: 75% are investing or plan to invest in addressing the negative economic impacts of COVID.
- Economic Recovery: 69% are investing or plan to invest in expanding services to disproportionately impacted communities.
- Revenue Replacement: 61% are investing or plan to invest to replace lost revenues.
- Workforce: 43% are investing or plan to invest in workforce programs to help workers and the local economy recover.
- Housing: 56% are investing or plan to invest in stable housing, housing services, or new housing development.
- Infrastructure: 56% are investing or plan to invest in infrastructure, such as broadband, sewer, and water infrastructure.
- Public Health: 72% are investing or plan to invest in public health, including combating COVID-19 through vaccine outreach and distribution.
- Innovation: 38% are investing or plan to invest in piloting new programs.
- Education: 34% are investing or plan to invest in education and youth development.
- Criminal Justice: 31% are investing or plan to invest in justice, crime reduction and public safety.
- Other Investments: 13% are investing or plan to invest in guaranteed basic income, 19% are investing or plan to invest in emergency rental assistance, and 24% are investing or plan to invest in premium pay for essential workers.
Evidence, Data, Public Engagement and Equity
The dashboard assesses the strength of each jurisdiction’s Performance Report based on its adherence to five key data, evidence, and outcomes provisions in the Treasury guidance for how governments should invest these dollars to advance economic recovery, economic mobility, and racial equity: 1.) building and using data and evidence to help deliver services; 2.) prioritizing evidence-based interventions; 3.) assessing investments through rigorous evaluations; 4.) engaging the community and incorporating feedback to help determine funding priorities; and 5.) promoting equitable outcomes across underserved or marginalized groups. Reports were reviewed and provided a composite score based on those metrics. The data showed that:
- Public Engagement: 77% demonstrate clear or promising investments in engaging all residents to help shape their spending plans.
- Advancing Equity: 77% demonstrate clear or promising investments in plans to ensure equitable outcomes.
- Evidence-Based Interventions: 55% demonstrate clear or promising investments in evidence-based interventions.
- Evaluation: 45% demonstrate clear or promising investments in evaluation for those programs without a strong evidence base.
- Building Data and Evidence: 31% demonstrate clear or promising investments in building data and evidence capacity.
Innovative Approaches from Cities and Counties
With the next tranche of ARP funding coming to state, local, and tribal governments in the spring, the data in the Performance Reports can help policymakers better plan their next ARP investments by learning from innovative practices in communities across the country. Here are just a few:
- Build Data and Evidence Capacity: Washington, DC
Washington, DC has an existing process in place for using evidence-based budgeting that it applied to the use of ARP funds. Mayor Bowser’s proposed budget, which includes ARP investments, was reviewed for evidence and scored by “The Lab” – the Mayor’s scientific team – prior to submission to the DC Council. The District is also investing in a new Launch, Evaluation, and Monitoring (LEM) hub, a capacity-building initiative that will provide enhanced support to investments, which they hope will have a transformative impact on DC residents. The LEM will include a team dedicated to the rigorous performance management and evaluation of select programs, including some ARP funded projects, to help inform decisions about which investments have the highest positive impact on residents and should be continued beyond FY24.
- Invest in Evaluation: Madison, WI
Madison, WI is developing plans to implement new, evidence-based programs that include evaluation to determine the efficacy of the intervention. For example, it is launching a pilot mental health emergency program: Community Alternative Response for Emergency Services (CARES). Madison plans to fund an external evaluator to design a study and independently assess the program.
- Engage Communities: Cook County, IL
Cook County, IL has taken several approaches to meaningfully engage residents to determine ARP funding priorities. The County partnered with community-based organizations from marginalized communities, hosting meetings, administering surveys, and creating a process for ongoing engagement. Additionally, it developed a website to educate the public and trusted messengers about ARP, and secured professional assistance to ensure robust engagement in the planning and implementation of ARP.
Innovative Workforce Investments
Workforce is emerging as a top investment area – 43% of jurisdictions have reported clear or promising investments in workforce, including programs to help people get back to work, upskill, and access higher quality jobs. Here are a few examples:
Detroit, MI: The City will employ workers through the Skills for Life program. Workers will spend three days working on projects that are important to the City, and two days a week attending education or training to earn a credential that leads to a career. To support workers, the program will also help with transportation, the development of a childcare plan, career coaching, and other supports to increase the long-term success of participants.
Los Angeles, CA: The Angeleno Corps program will engage 400 young Angelenos (aged 18-24) in a paid year of service and learning, providing a monthly stipend of $1,000. The program will intentionally recruit corps members from neighborhoods most impacted by COVID-19, racial oppression, and educational inequities. Corps members commit to performing at least 400 hours of service and to sustaining academic goals by either remaining or re-engaging in community college or other vocational training programs.
Boston, MA: The childcare sector, already a low-paying sector before the pandemic, has a severe workforce shortage. In order to incentivize hiring, the City will provide direct grants to childcare businesses who have hired new childcare staff (or rehired previously laid off staff) since July 1, 2021. Part of the grant will be for the hiring organization and part of the grant will be intended as a bonus for the employee. The intended outcomes of this program are to draw qualified caregivers back into the childcare workforce with better pay, help childcare workers remain in the field with augmented pay, and help childcare businesses retain their workers with annual bonuses.
**Note: The information in the dashboard will be updated as more information on local, state and tribal ARP investments is released publicly. To learn more about the dashboard, contact us.