Lessons from the Street: Capacity Building and Replication
7. Lessons for Replication
By replication, we mean identifying a program, program component or program principle that works in one location and implementing it in another location. Over the ten year period covered in this report, the Foundation pursued thirty replications, so defined, in nineteen cities (Table 3). Three were implementation failures. Of the remaining twenty-seven, twenty-three completed their work with the Eisenhower Foundation, over a period of thirty to thirty-six months. They received process and outcome evaluations. Four are in midstream at present, and are receiving process and impact evaluations. (Fifteen new replications were beginning at the time of publication and are not covered in Chapter 7.)
Three of the twenty-seven completed or midstream replications focused on employment training and placement. The rest primarily focused on youth development, improvement of youth performance in school, crime prevention, drug prevention and problem-oriented, community equity policing innovations -- or combinations of these elements.
It is not our intent to provide detailed accounts of the substantive, programmatic findings from the evaluations of these replications. This has been done elsewhere.1 However, the footnotes summarize the evaluation findings,2 and we reference these findings at times in Chapter 7.
1There were many other matching partners.
2There were four groups -- in Boston, Columbia, San Juan and Washington, DC -- which first replicated with funds from one major source and then further replicated, with new components, with funds from another major source.
Our purpose here is to distill lessons on how to replicate, and how not to, based on this experience. Our lessons are as follows:
Lesson 1: The Same Model Works for Capacity Building and Replication
The Foundation provided technical assistance and training inputs (the dependent variables) to grassroots nonprofit organizations that hosted replications. The host sites utilized the inputs to replicate the complete model of a successful organization, or to replicate model program components and model program principles (proximate outcomes). The evaluations measured for ultimate outcomes -- like increased employment of out-of-school youth, higher earnings, improved school performance, less crime and drug involvement of cohorts of targeted youth, more (non-zero tolerance) sensitivity by police to the minority community and more perceptions of community-wide security by residents in inner-city locations.3
Lesson 2: The Same Inputs Work for Capacity Building and Replication
However, some of these inputs take on greater importance in replication than in capacity building. Compared to capacity building assistance, more significant resources obviously are needed to assist, staff-out and operate a replication in another location. For example, funding for our employment training and placement replication was about $170,000 per year per replication site for each of three years. The resources were for staffing substantive program components -- like "tough love" pre-employment training, remedial education, training for a job in demand, job placement and job retention. Consequently, replication workplans were more complicated than workplans that concentrated on capacity building alone. With replication workplans and associated budgets specifying how subcontracts from the Foundation to the sites would be allocated, the cooperative agreements we co-signed with nonprofit organizations were legally binding in ways not possible with capacity building cooperative agreements in which no, or very few, dollars actually were subgranted.
Lesson 3: To Qualify As a Model for Replication, A Program Should Be Scientifically Evaluated In terms of personal and public health, Americans tend to accept the notion that new drugs to fight, say, cancer or AIDS need to be scientifically evaluated and that, if they work, there then should be widespread use of them among all in need.
For the truly disadvantaged, a few instances can be found of replications that follow such a reasonable course. One example is the Ford Foundation-initiated Quantum Opportunities Program, based on adult mentors for inner-city high school youth. After Brandeis University released statistically significant findings that showed Quantum Opportunities worked and could be replicated, the New York Times published an editorial summarizing the success. Quantum Opportunities now is being replicated on a broader scale through public and private funding.4
Yet the example of Quantum Opportunities is relatively rare. Especially for public sector funding, programs for the truly disadvantaged can be replicated because of the influence of well paid lobbyists, access based on friendships, and fashions of the moment -- not because of positive evaluations. For example, one well-known anti-drug program has been awarded five percent of federal Drug Free Schools grants passed through states to localities. It has been replicated in over 8,000 schools. Yet a series of evaluations have shown that the model and the replications do not reduce substance abuse. The program continues to expand because the national organization has created a powerful lobbying arm for what amounts to an almost billion dollar per year industry. An article by Stephen Glass concludes in The New Republic:5
The need for solid, unequivocal scientific evidence is all the more crucial to counter the influential ideology of naysayers. For example, a book published in the 1990s that talked of the "moral poverty" of "feral" "superpredators" was influential in encouraging the boom in prison building, according to some observers, as well as the proliferation of bootcamps (which later were discredited, based on scientific evaluation).6[The organization] has used tactics ranging from bullying journalists to manipulating the facts to mounting campaigns in order to intimidate government officials and stop news organizations, researchers and parents from criticizing the program.
When it comes to evidence that a model is qualified to be replicated, as well as to decisions on how to assess whether replications have worked, we believe funders should follow scientific evaluation, not political ideology.
What do we mean by "scientific evaluation"? The National Research Council has concluded that the vast majority of programs for the truly disadvantaged and the inner city are not evaluated, or receive superficial evaluations that do not allow conclusions to be drawn on whether the program actually worked.7 By contrast, the Eisenhower Foundation's standards for scientific evaluation are as follows:8
Lesson 4: Good Candidates for Replication Have Multiple Solutions
What common program elements tend to appear in grassroots organization models and replications that work in the inner city and for the truly disadvantaged? Our review suggests that the multiple elements often include preschool; safe haven sanctuaries off the street after elementary and middle school hours, where youth receive sustained social support and discipline from near peers or adults; public school innovations like parent-teacher school management, smaller and more holistic schools, full service community schools and computer-based remedial education that motivate youth to stay in school and obtain a high school degree; "tough love" job training carefully linked to the creation and retention of real jobs that are in demand; incentives for continuing on to college; employment linked to needed economic development (like housing rehabilitation or telecommunications repair) and operated by community development corporations; community-based banking to finance that development to help create the jobs for high-risk youth; and problem oriented, community equity policing (not zero tolerance) to mentor youth and secure the neighborhood for the banking and development.10
Of course, not all model programs and replications illustrate all of these program elements. But the elements, or variations of them, often appear in multiple combinations.
Similarly, successful programs and replications tend to have multiple good outcomes. Not uncommonly, in successfully evaluated models and replications, these outcomes include some combination of less crime, less gang-related behavior, less drug abuse, less welfare dependency, fewer adolescent pregnancies, fewer school dropouts, more youth development, more school grades completed, more successful school-to-work transitions, more employability, better parenting among targeted high-risk youth, and more stable families. Quantum Opportunities has most of these outcomes. In addition, the communities where young people live can experience less fear, fewer drug dealers, better schools and more business, job, and economic development. Again, all model programs and replications achieve all of these good outcomes. But the point is that multiple outcomes are the rule, not the exception.11
In the same vein, enough models and replications that work have been identified to orchestrate them together into a comprehensive, complementary, interdependent national policy for the truly disadvantaged. For example, problem oriented, community-equity policing with minority officers as role models can be deployed to help secure and stabilize inner city neighborhoods. The public safety can encourage community banking and community economic development. Particularly when pursued by nonprofit community development corporations, such inner city economic development purposely can be designed to generate jobs for high-risk young people. Often they can better qualify for such jobs if they have participated in some of the education, remedial education, life skills training, job training and job retention models that have been scientifically evaluated as successful and replicated -- like Quantum Opportunities nationally, the Argus Learning for Living Center in the South Bronx and other locations, Project Prepare in different locations in Chicago and the Comer School Development Plan nationally and internationally. Young people can get as far as these kinds of education and employment innovations if they stay out of trouble with the help of counselors, advocates and near peers in safe havens after school during their pre-teen years. They can get as far as the safe havens if they have participated in adequately funded and managed Head Start-type preschool when they are three-to-five years old.12
Lesson 5: Replication Is Possible
Some assert it is impossible to replicate successful grassroots nonprofit successes -- because they depend on charismatic individuals who can't be duplicated. But the experience of the Eisenhower Foundation has been that replication is quite possible and depends in no small part on:
Consider each of these points:
Securing Adequate Funding Over Sufficient Time
In terms of the length of time needed for a professionally run replication, the Eisenhower Foundation has been able to facilitate statistically significant outcome success in as little as eighteen months. On balance, we feel much more comfortable with thirty-six months as a standard length of time to plan a replication, train staff, run the replication for a while to work out problems before evaluation even begins, conduct the evaluation, retain quality control, refine programming after mid-course corrections, complete a process and impact evaluation report, and communicate outcomes in the print and electronic media.Evaluating the Replication in a Scientific Way
The same scientific method and pre-post control or comparison design needed to establish the original program as a model is necessary for the replication. Otherwise, how will we know that the replication works? Through trial-and-error, we found that staff from the replication site should be involved and have a stake in the evaluation. It helps morale, assists evaluators and can be done in an objective way. Evaluations of replications need to be especially sensitive to "implementation failure." That is, we can already assume to some extent that the program idea is sound -- at least in the location where the initiative originally demonstrated success and hence became a model. But the replication still may fail (as it did in some of our experiences) because of inadequacies in the unglamourous, day-to-day process of implementation.
How much longer should evaluations continue after an initial round of replication is assessed as successful? There is as yet no established answer. Thus, for example, the Eisenhower Foundation's youth safe haven-police ministation model program in inner cities, public housing and public schools now is undergoing its third round of replication evaluations, with evaluations of the first two cohorts showing substantial success. In order to generate continuing illustrations of what works at a time when those who advocate prison building and boot camps remain highly influential, in spite of scientific evidence to the contrary, the Eisenhower Foundation has continued encouraging evaluations for the safe haven-ministation model. But how long does -- and should -- it take before a consensus builds that a program is worthwhile and needs to be replicated to scale, without still more expensive evaluations?
It has been our experience that the organization that provides technical assistance to replication sites also can undertake the evaluation. Such a dual role has been played by a number of national nonprofit intermediary organizations. The advantage is that the technical assistance team and the evaluation team can coordinate closely -- insuring, for example, that all partners are focused on the same dependent, proximate and independent variables. Through cluster group workshops, we have found that joint assister-evaluator-site director sessions can engender trust more often than with an outside evaluator. Such trust is critical if the evaluator is to work with the nonprofit organization in collecting data -- a partnership the Eisenhower Foundation encourages but that outside evaluators often do not. The potential disadvantage is that objectivity is lost when the same entity undertakes both technical assistance and evaluation. However, our experience differs. The Eisenhower Foundation has been able to name evaluation oversight boards of outside experts who have insured objectivity.
In addition, while we have had positive experience with outside evaluators, there also have been horror stories. For example, after data collection by one academic evaluator, who sent white women in heels knocking on doors in an inner-city neighborhood, program youth later told Eisenhower Foundation staff they had lied in the interviews. In another instance, the outside evaluation organization's fees were considerably higher than the cost would have been with an Eisenhower Foundation evaluation, because our past evaluation experience has created many economies of scale. The outside evaluation began almost one year late. The complete, written evaluation design was withheld from the Eisenhower Foundation and the local sites -- creating much distrust, violating the Foundation's principles for replication, and disregarding our procedures for how to treat and work with grassroots nonprofit organizations. In spite of protests to the contrary, the evaluator contemplated measures the Eisenhower Foundation had found in the past to be inappropriate. The net result was that the evaluator changed the process to such a degree that we no longer were replicating the original Eisenhower Foundation model. The replication had become defined as what the evaluator thought the model should be.
Creating Sound Institutional and Staff Capacity at Replication
Contrary to the ideology of those who assert that replication is difficult or impossible, capable leaders can be identified for replications, we have found, as long as they are given adequate time, funding, coaching, training and technical assistance.
Generating Professional Training Manuals and Videos
For example, for the Foundation's employment training, placement and retention replications based on the Argus Learning for Living model in the South Bronx, the training manual is a well written, step-by-step training guide to how Argus works and what scientific evidence is available to prove its success. Produced by Argus itself, the training video that accompanies the manual follows the main points of the manual, using visuals and personalities to draw trainees into the experience and make it come to life. Appendix 5 has transcript excerpts from the training video.
Another example is the Foundation's youth safe haven-police ministation model. The model is not a single program in a single location (as Argus) but a hybrid of several principles or concepts. The two leading concepts are the American notion of an extended family sanctuary for youth off the streets after school, as popularized in the Carnegie Corporation report, A Matter of Time,14 and the Japanese notion of a neighborhood police ministation.15 When we first began working in this field, in the late 1980's, our training manual consisted of descriptions of safe havens and Japanese ministations. Then we undertook two round of replications, in ten cities. The present training manual reports on the replications -- different ways of blending safe havens and ministations in ten cities. The manual is designed for organizations undertaking our later generation of replications of these hybrids in public housing, other low income neighborhoods and schools. The idea is to let the later generation groups read the ten different case studies, and then come up with their own hybrids -- while at the same time operating within the framework of unifying principles and concepts found in the manual. We have several training videos for this model. One was made by the Foundation. The others were based on television network stories on the model. For example, Appendix 6 has the transcript of a story on the Foundation and the model that appeared on ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. Because of the prestige of such national coverage, we have found that it has a lasting effect on replication site trainees, and complements well the more nuts-and-bolts training videos that the Foundation produces itself.
Training Replication Staff Systematically And In Stages
After initial training, running about three days, we found a second training at the model site was critical between months six and nine for addressing implementation questions and for training staff who were not on board when the first training was conducted. After that, we found that at least one additional training workshop per year during the length of a replication grant was necessary. Such later workshops bring together all staff from all replication sites -- to exchange notes, refine understanding of the replication, keep in touch with the evaluation and focus on specific issues that sites agree ahead of time are of common interest for group discussion. There always will be staff turnover, and these workshops help new staff to understand the replication. The workshops also can be structured as staff development sessions where exposure is given to other models, multiple solutions and the state-of-the-art in youth development.
Throughout all workshops, we keep bringing up the distinctions among inputs (dependent variables); consequent skills, knowledge and actions (proximate variables) and consequent measurable outcomes (independent variables). By making such distinctions, we encourage staff to manage by objective -- and seek to insure that staff are thinking in the same cause-and-effect manner as the evaluators. For example, in one such workshop, a Foundation trainer began by engaging participants in a hands-on exercise. The objective was to introduce sites to the idea that actions produce outcomes. Each site was asked to use food coloring to change a jar of water into the "ideal" jar of navy blue water. Each team was given jars of colored water (red, yellow, green and clear), food coloring, and measuring implements. Participants were asked to use the food coloring to change the four small jars of colored water so that they all had a navy blue color. Participants had ten minutes to complete the exercise before being asked to show their results.
The trainer then explained the exercise:
The trainer explained that the participants had developed a regression equation for youth development. Sites were asked to define program components that would increase all of the above factors (variables). All sites were provided a list of program outcomes that would be measured during the evaluation. Participants workplans were reviewed to determine whether they adequately reflected inputs, actions and outcomes. Some sites were provided technical assistance to better articulate this goal.
Adhering to Strategic Workplans and Budgets
Insuring Tenacious Quality Control
Unless there has been significant staff turnover, in the second year of a replication more time should be given to site visits to provide technical assistance on refining the replication. Accurate and timely documentation of participant activity is imperative. Staff time must be regularly available for this purpose, we have found.
Flexibility -- but also tenacity and attention to detail -- are important qualities in a replication director. To illustrate, staff at one Eisenhower Foundation replication site were furious over insistence by the Eisenhower replication director that key parts of the workplan be implemented. Staff at the replication site did not return Eisenhower-Foundation calls for a week. Consequently, quarterly drawdown checks were withheld by the Foundation. Eventually peace was made.
It is not yet entirely clear when and where it is best to have replication directors located at the model program and when and where it is best for them to be part of an intermediary organization which collaborates with staff from the original model. We have seen both variations work. If the replication director works at the model organization, "founder's syndrome" (Chapter 4) sometimes can get in the way of the replication. For example, the founder of the model can insist on too exact a duplication of the original program and may not sufficiently delegate the complex replication process to others. The founder sometimes can try to manage both the "mother" program and all the replication sites -- which can lead to implementation failure.
These problems sometimes can be overcome by an intermediary organization, which manages the replication process. But the intermediary must know the model well and have the trust of the staff of the founding organization (as has been the case, for example, with the Foundation and Argus). Such trust is not always easy to achieve. When it is achieved, the intermediary can be helpful in leveraging funds, providing technical assistance, insuring objective quality control, leading the evaluation and communicating the outcomes through the print and electronic media in ways that also help the site raise ongoing financial support. It often is difficult for the model program to undertake all these tasks by itself.Concentrating on Underlying Principles Rather Than Exact Copies
It is possible to be successful with replications that are as close to duplications as possible. Many funders, especially public bureaucracies, can insist on duplication as the goal. In spite of achieving positive outcomes with such duplications (for example, with the Argus replication), the Eisenhower Foundation prefers instead to replicate the principles underlying the model program. The essence of the model is replicated. But variations on the theme are allowed so that local implementors can have more ownership in the process of replication and the strength of the outcomes. With this definition of replication, it also is easier than with exact duplications to adapt to local circumstances. The Eisenhower youth safe haven-police ministation programs illustrate well replication of underlying principles.
Recognizing that Either a Entire Program Or Parts of It Can Be
Replicated in Another Location
When the model is replicated in its entirety at a new location, sometimes there can be a rather slow replication start-up period and considerable staff turnover, as new ideas are put into practice and some personnel do not meet expectations. The advantage to replicating the entire model can be local enthusiasm for those exciting new ideas and little resistance to implementing them.
When the host organization already has some of the components of the model in place and is integrating in other components that it does not have, there can be institutional resistance. In some cases, the host organization can act like it "just wants the money" for replication operations, knows better and really is not interested in the model. When all goes well, the advantage to integrating in just some components can be the creation of a new hybrid that is a synthesis of the best of the model and the best of the host.
Lesson 6: Communications Should Be Part of A Replication Strategy
Why is the dominant view in America that we don't know what works and don't know how to replicate?
The Eisenhower Foundation has concluded that much of the answer has to do with money, communications and the media. Some well-funded think tanks have been extremely effective in communicating an ideology that little works except failed programs like prison building, boot camps, tax breaks for the rich and enterprise zones.
Media have responded to and reinforced the communications effectiveness of such think tanks. A good illustration is local television evening news. More Americans get their news from this source than from any other. Typically, a local half hour news program includes perhaps nine to ten minutes of real news -- as well as sports, the weather and many commercials. Commercials are extremely important for local television news. Local news commercials usually are the prime source of revenue for local television stations. In spite of polls which show that Americans are against violence and against negative images on television, the producers of local news producers often have decided that stories with crime, violence, bad news and negative stereotyping will maximize the possibility that viewers will stay tuned. That maximizes revenues, the producers reason. The result of this violent and negative programming can be the "mean world syndrome." Day in and day out, the average, middle class, suburban American viewer is left with the feeling that nothing works.17 This may increase the likelihood that the middle class viewer will conclude that policies like prison building and boot camps are the answer, not replication of programs that do work.
To help combat the mean world syndrome, we believe that the kind of communications strategies recommended in Chapters 5 and 6, including television schools and community-based web sites, should not just be part of capacity building that leads to a model, but should be reinforced during replication of the model.
Lesson 7: Replication Policy Should Pay More Attention To Unaffiliated Grassroots Nonprofit Organizations
Yet at least as successful, we have found, are local, indigenous, unaffiliated nonprofit organizations -- which are not the products of large systems. Argus in the South Bronx, Delancey Street in San Francisco, Centro Sister Isolina Ferre in Puerto Rico, the Dorchester Youth Collaborative in Boston, Koban, Inc. in Columbia, South Carolina and Youth Guidance in Chicago are just a few examples.20
We acknowledge the "top down" success of some national nonprofit organizations. But large systems do often pose problems, as Lisbeth Schorr has recognized. Local affiliates of some large national nonprofits sometimes complain that the national organization is not in touch with local circumstances and that the technical assistance provided by the national office is not always as helpful as it might be. Such local affiliates, which the Eisenhower Foundation has worked with, sometimes say in private that they have, on balance, decided to remain affiliated because the national logo and imprimatur are useful in raising money.
Money and influence are key. Large organizations are more likely than small indigenous organizations to have the money to lobby for legislative earmarks, secure executive branch sole source contracts and write sophisticated proposals for replication grants and contracts. They are more likely to have communications offices that can effectively send their messages through the media -- to foundations, corporations, public sector executives and legislators at the federal, national and state levels. These big systems also can become allied with nationally known evaluators which, to sustain themselves financially, need the kind of substantial evaluation grants and contracts that large, national nonprofit institutions can attract from major funders. All of this has generated a kind of large system network, when it comes to replicating grassroots nonprofit organizations. Given the power and personal associations in the network, the result presently may be a bias toward replicating what works for the truly disadvantaged through large institutions.
Compared to the large public and private institutions, the small, indigenous nonprofit groups that we have found to be at least as effective at replication can be more in touch with the people they serve in inner cities. This was especially evident when one of our groups broke away from the local affiliate of a large national organization and, as a result, undertook more creative and successful work. It also has been our experience that, after Foundation-facilitated funding ends, a national affiliate can have the financial wherewithal to continue the work, but may blur the original vision in order to encompass the national organization's mission. The local community base of an unaffiliated organization can allow neighborhood residents, including high-risk youth, to acquire a stake in planning and implementing programs and to tailor solutions to local needs. A national policy based on these creative, energetic, unaffiliated local nonprofits, in our view, will draw more stakeholders onto the playing field and so may enhance a more inclusive, democratic, bubble up national process with increased local ownership.
Accordingly, we propose that funders give more priority than at present to replications of these grassroots, bubble up institutions, and less priority than at present to the top down large system network. We believe that there is a need for a national strategy that facilitates a flowering of unaffiliated groups and their replication locally as they become models, all in ways that expand ownership at the grassroots level.
Lesson 8: "Faith Based" Rhetoric Should Be Kept In Perspective
Lesson 9: What Works Can Be Cheaper Than What Doesn't
Perhaps what is most important at this stage of imperfect knowledge is that many examples can be given of how programs that work, based on scientific evaluations, are cheaper than programs that don't work. The annual cost to incarcerate one person can be over $30,000 in New York state prisons. Yet recidivism rates after prison are extremely high, and prison doesn't provide multiple solutions to multiple problems. An excellent example is the state of Arizona, which has begun directing nonviolent offenders from prison to community programs; an evaluation sponsored by the Supreme Court of Arizona found both recidivism rates and costs to taxpayers had dropped. Similarly, boot camps, which don't work, are considerably more expensive than Argus, which does work. In terms of cost/benefit ratios, for every dollar invested in the supply-side targeted tax credit program from 1978 to 1995 there were $.37 in benefits. For every dollar invested in Job Corps, there are $1.50 in benefits.22
Although there are plenty of illustrations to make our point that replication success can cost less than failure, the nation needs a much more systematic, independent annual audit than we presently have that compares the costs and benefits of what does not work and what does for the truly disadvantaged -- in terms of models and their replications. For programs where we are unsure of success, the cost-benefit ratios will help clarify what works. Such a tool, perhaps funded by major foundations, might be distributed in attractive, readable formats so that local grassroots organizations, national nonprofit change agents and the media can understand them.
Lesson 10: Beware Of Too Much Volunteerism," "Self Sufficiency" and "Empowerment" In Replication, As In Capacity
The limitations of replicating programs through extensive use of volunteers are especially apparent in the inner city. The fact that inner city residents are resource-poor to begin with is part of the reason why they are faced with the problems of drop-outs, unemployment, crime, drugs and deterioration of community life. In our West Philadelphia nonprofit community replication, staff noted special difficulty in recruiting volunteers because of the high proportion of female-headed households in the neighborhood. Many women in the community already had their hands more than full coping with both family and work. Similarly, an Eisenhower replication in the East Brooklyn section of New York City planned a volunteer subway station watch. Despite considerable efforts, there was little success in finding volunteers. The project director attributed the lack of response to residents?need for paid work, as opposed to volunteer work, and the possible danger involved.23
Even when sufficient volunteers can be found for replications, programs do not necessarily show positive outcomes. For example, volunteer citizen block watches do not reduce crime in inner-city neighborhoods, based on most evaluations. Sometimes they reduce fear while crime remains high or even increases.24
Some of the clearest quantitative evidence on the limits of volunteerism comes from the Foundation's first generation of youth safe haven-police ministation replications in four cities. As we have seen, during the first two years, the programs were funded at levels about as originally planned. During the last year, there were sharp budget cuts. During the initial years, paid staff ran the programs, with volunteers in a supportive role -- and crime declined an average of eighteen percent in the target neighborhoods in the four cities. During the last year, paid staff were cut to the bone, much more reliance had to be given to volunteers -- and crime declined by an average of only three percent in the four target neighborhoods.25
Just as we have found that good, reliable volunteers are not easy to find in inner city neighborhoods, so others have warned about reliance on middle class or wealthy volunteers who live in the suburbs. Andrew Kohut, who headed an extensive study of "citizen engagement" for the Pew Charitable Trusts, concluded, "It's a truism that people volunteer in their own social strata in areas where they feel comfortable." Julian Walpole, at Princeton, has observed that volunteers overwhelmingly prefer to work in their own communities. "As a rule, volunteers don't commute."26 The problem was illustrated in one Eisenhower Foundation replication, where the affiliate of a national organization promised adult middle class volunteer mentors, but then did not deliver.27
A related issue is that good volunteerism is not free. Abe Wandersman at the University of South Carolina, who specializes in volunteerism, has said, "Effective volunteerism requires understanding the costs and benefits to the volunteers." For a volunteer to benefit and to be productive, the volunteer must be screened, oriented, trained and supervised. One-to-One/The National Mentoring Partnership, which links mentors to children, has concluded that the cost for one mentor for one year in New York City is $192.28 However, in its evaluation of volunteers in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program, Public/Private Ventures estimated the cost for one mentor for one year to be $1,0000. This evaluation also estimated that perhaps five to fifteen million youth need such volunteer mentors. Hence the cost might be $5B to 15B per year if such volunteerism were replicated to a scale equal to the dimensions of the problem.29Self-Sufficiency
There are some examples of replications that can become "self-sufficient." For example, the original Delancey Street in San Francisco and its replications around the nation are replication is run entirely by adult ex-offenders, who net millions per year from their businesses.30
However, Delancey Street has been an anomaly when it comes to self-sufficiency -- especially for high-risk children and youth who are too young to work. Early Eisenhower Foundation replications found that such programs were frustrated, hampered, and sometimes stillborn because of insufficient funds for paid staff, insufficient funds for staff development, an absence of qualified, trained people to hire even had the funds been available, lack of space for program activities, lack of money to pay for the most basic, essential supplies and lack of internally generated income streams. For example, in the Foundation-funded replication in East Brooklyn, despite help from several VISTA volunteers, the project was "overwhelmed by the work." One staff member said: "There are too many things to do at one time -- block organizing, clean-ups, meetings, fundraisers, the after-school program and cleaning the office." We found such programs had trouble hiring, and even more trouble retaining, project directors -- in part, as one evaluation notes, because of the "low salaries offered." In West Philadelphia, the replication had only one staff member for the first ten months of operations. The first project director received a better job offer and resigned after a few months' work, as did the coordinator of a program for senior citizens. The program's executive director commented, "With non-profits, it's terrible. The pay is low, especially for professional people. They'll do it when they don't have other opportunities, but when something better comes up you can't blame them for taking it."31
Such salary and related resource limitations had a fundamental impact on the character of many early Eisenhower Foundation replications. In West Philadelphia, the constant turnover of staff made it more difficult to maintain the momentum of the program and to establish a coherent framework within which program activities could be developed. In some instances, the program seemed to develop more in response to external conditions than to the internal mission of the organization. In the program in the Mid-Bronx, a well-planned employment information and referral service folded after a few months of operation, because there were not enough staff members to run it, and the economic-development specialist who served as its director left after a few months, with no one hired to take her place. Similarly, an after-school program in Washington, DC never got off the ground because no one had "sufficient time for the many tasks involved in implementing a new program." Low levels of categorical, short term funding also mean that many inner city programs must cope with a lack of basic materials -- vans, cars, recreation equipment and office space.32
As a result, in later Foundation replications, for a grant of a given size, we increased the amount of funding per site and reduced the number of sites.Empowerment
As a fashionable term, "empowerment" came into its own in the 1980s -- for example, in the context of tenant management and tenant ownership in low income housing. One tenant management demonstration, in Washington, D.C., became a showcase for visitors. Even the Queen of England came to see it. Yet no national strategy was created and funded to replicate tenant management and ownership to scale in low income housing across the nation. Funding would have been necessary to train tenants in management. And job opportunities would have been necessary to assure that those who owned their homes could pay their mortgages. In the absence of such a policy, tenants in only a relatively few demonstrations around the nation were "empowered." There never was much attention given to how "empowerment" would be a practical, day-to-day mechanism through which a model was replicated to scale. That seemingly required money, and money, at least public sector funding, was never part of the concept. However, after public sector executives who articulated this kind of empowerment left government, money came into play -- in that they received large fees for talking about empowerment to audiences that were well off and could afford the fees.33 Coalitions
Grassroots coalition building was another popular catch phrase in the 1980s and 1990s. There was, and still is, a lack of clarity in some grassroots initiatives as to why coalitions might help solve the problems of poor communities. Part of the rationale seems to be that resources presumably already are available in the communities, but are poorly managed and need coordination via a coalition.
However proof for this assumption is not entirely clear. An example is the work of federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP). CSAP has made hundreds of grants -- to both community-based coalitions and to individual youth development organizations. There is little evidence that the coalitions have produced better outcomes than the individual agencies.34 The coalitions required a lot of meetings. The individual agencies gave priority to direct service provision, building partnerships with others only if and when they appeared productive. It has been the experience of the Eisenhower Foundation that resource-poor organizations will resist collaborations and their many meetings unless there is a reasonably clear promise that the organizations will secure more funds for their work.
However, if the partners of a coalition are adequately funded, and if there also is additional funding for joint work, then the partners can make site visits to learn one another, create evaluations which might not be feasible on a single agency basis, and perhaps share a common media director who communicates their successes.Devolution
Today, devolution usually is defined as shifting funds and control from federal government to state government. There is some basis for saying that some states have been "creative laboratories for change," to use language that frequently is used today. An illustration is the success of southern states in reducing infant mortality. Yet there is great variability among states. For example, when the federal government makes block grants to states that affect high-risk children and youth, governors do not always distribute the block grants proportionately to the populations in need. For example, there have been years when California did not grant Los Angeles nearly its proportionate share of drug block-grant money. The same has been true for Wisconsin and its distribution to Milwaukee.35
In the case of the most fashionable current social experiment with devolution, "welfare reform," evidence is accumulating that many states are not creating a fair deal to the working poor. For example, one study has found that many states are creating cumbersome, bureaucratic rules for how the working poor can secure the benefits promised them by law and are misinforming the working poor about the benefits legally due them. As one result, millions of families are losing Medicaid and food stamps, often in clear violation of federal law. Meanwhile, many states are sitting on surplus federal funds that accumulate as caseloads decline. At least six states are using these funds to pay for tax cuts or general fund programs. Hardly any of the surplus is finding its way into childcare, training or education, or into transportation subsidies that might make low-wage work more manageable for poor families.36
But the key issue for replication is why we should devolve to the state public sector at all, when there is considerable evidence that devolution directly to the local, private, grassroots, nonprofit sector would yield better results.