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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Roberts, Brandon; Price, Derek
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    In 2007, the Joyce Foundation launched Shifting Gears, a state policy initiative designed to promote regional economic growth by improving the education and skills training of the workforce in six Midwestern states. These states—Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin—were tasked to create more seamless pathways to postsecondary credentials and good jobs for lower-skilled adults. The initiative was developed in the wake of a particularly marked transition in the Midwest from largely industrial economies structured around manufacturing to more diversified economies that promised new growth and new jobs. CLASP played a key role in Shifting Gears as the managing intermediary of the overall initiative and the primary provider of technical assistance.

    A recently released evaluation report covering the first five years of the initiative discusses the progress these states have made to-date and outlines the activities that contributed most to their success. The report finds that four core activities were critical to the success of the Shifting Gears states:...

    In 2007, the Joyce Foundation launched Shifting Gears, a state policy initiative designed to promote regional economic growth by improving the education and skills training of the workforce in six Midwestern states. These states—Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin—were tasked to create more seamless pathways to postsecondary credentials and good jobs for lower-skilled adults. The initiative was developed in the wake of a particularly marked transition in the Midwest from largely industrial economies structured around manufacturing to more diversified economies that promised new growth and new jobs. CLASP played a key role in Shifting Gears as the managing intermediary of the overall initiative and the primary provider of technical assistance.

    A recently released evaluation report covering the first five years of the initiative discusses the progress these states have made to-date and outlines the activities that contributed most to their success. The report finds that four core activities were critical to the success of the Shifting Gears states:

    Strengthening alignment and collaboration across the adult education, workforce, and community and technical college systems;

    Achieving buy-in and commitment of senior state leadership to advance the chosen state strategy;

    Enacting changes to specific state policies and regulations affecting local programs and delivery, which provided an impetus for local champions to pursue the specified innovative strategy; and

    Engaging the field of local practitioners and administrators intentionally and repeatedly to create local champions.

     The report emphasized that the first five years of Shifting Gears were always intended to be foundational—setting the groundwork for longer-term success and scale. To that point, the core activities found critical to their success reflect a state focus on relationship building and policy change in these initial years, rather than taking new approaches to scale. Still, the evaluators found that four states achieved significant progress toward systemic change and together—due to the states’ efforts--reached about 4,000 low-skilled students, who may have otherwise been unable to access marketable postsecondary credentials.

    States are expected to continue on this positive trajectory. In fact, several are continuing to build upon their Shifting Gears efforts.

    Illinois is expanding its use of bridge programs developed under Shifting Gears through the Accelerating Opportunity initiative and is building bridge programs into manufacturing career pathways through a Workforce Innovation Fund grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

    Minnesota has received funding from the Joyce Foundation to continue its work under the Shifting Gears initiative into 2013-14 and has recently been selected to participate in an initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education to integrate existing career-technical education pathways into broader state system reforms initiated under Shifting Gears.

    Wisconsin has also received funding from the Joyce Foundation for continued Shifting Gears work until 2013-14 and received a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to conduct activities that expand upon the foundation built through Shifting Gears.

    Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are participating in a CLASP-led project, the Alliance for Quality Career Pathways, which is bringing together the expertise from leading career pathways states to identify criteria for high-quality career pathways systems and a set of shared performance metrics for measuring and managing their success. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Roy, Kevin; Palkovitz, Rob; Fagan, Jay
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2007

    In this paper, we examine the processes and contexts that allow nonresidential fathers to maintain close relationships with their children despite multiple life transitions. Specifically, we explore how development may not be an accumulation of normative statuses and turning points but an active and urgent strategizing to find alternative paths to participation as parents, partners, and workers. We focus on analyses of life history interviews collected from 146 fathers with demographic backgrounds parallel to those in the Fragile Families data set. Within this qualitative dataset, we focus on a subsample of particularly resilient fathers to explore the processes and contexts that shape transitory fathering and that cannot be captured in secondary analyses of large data sets. (author abstract)

    In this paper, we examine the processes and contexts that allow nonresidential fathers to maintain close relationships with their children despite multiple life transitions. Specifically, we explore how development may not be an accumulation of normative statuses and turning points but an active and urgent strategizing to find alternative paths to participation as parents, partners, and workers. We focus on analyses of life history interviews collected from 146 fathers with demographic backgrounds parallel to those in the Fragile Families data set. Within this qualitative dataset, we focus on a subsample of particularly resilient fathers to explore the processes and contexts that shape transitory fathering and that cannot be captured in secondary analyses of large data sets. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Bellotti, Jeanne; Derr, Michelle; Paxton, Nora
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2008

    In July 2007, the Employment and Training Administration awarded grants to five organizations to assist ex-offenders transition back into their communities under the Beneficiary Choice Contracting Program. The demonstration is based on the core premise that helping formerly incarcerated individuals find and maintain stable and legal employment will reduce recidivism and increase public safety. The cornerstone of the beneficiary choice approach is the participant's choice of the service provider that best meets his/her needs. The demonstration includes the added element of performance-based contracting for those services.

    This report, Giving Ex-Offenders a Choice in Life: First Findings from the Beneficiary Choice Demonstration, was prepared by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. Information included in the report was gathered during visits to each grantee community and after intense discussions at grantee conferences sponsored by the Department of Labor. The report includes a description of the grantees and the communities in which they operate; the grantees’...

    In July 2007, the Employment and Training Administration awarded grants to five organizations to assist ex-offenders transition back into their communities under the Beneficiary Choice Contracting Program. The demonstration is based on the core premise that helping formerly incarcerated individuals find and maintain stable and legal employment will reduce recidivism and increase public safety. The cornerstone of the beneficiary choice approach is the participant's choice of the service provider that best meets his/her needs. The demonstration includes the added element of performance-based contracting for those services.

    This report, Giving Ex-Offenders a Choice in Life: First Findings from the Beneficiary Choice Demonstration, was prepared by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. Information included in the report was gathered during visits to each grantee community and after intense discussions at grantee conferences sponsored by the Department of Labor. The report includes a description of the grantees and the communities in which they operate; the grantees’ experiences in developing the programs; the characteristics of participants enrolled during the initial months of operation; and some of their early employment-related outcomes. Of particular interest, the report also includes a description of grantees’ initial efforts to ensure that participants have a truly independent choice of service providers. The early successes and ongoing challenges faced by the grantees when implementing the indirect funding approach through performance-based contracting are also identified in the report. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Hahn, Andrew B.; Curnan, Susan P.; Bailis, Lawrence N.; Frees, Joseph; Kingsley, Christopher; LaCava, Lisa A.; Lanspery, Susan; Melchior, Alan L.; Moldow, Erika L.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    On February 17, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, providing $1.2 billion in targeted funding for the workforce investment system to generate employment and training opportunities for economically disadvantaged youth nationwide. Congress and the U.S. Department of Labor encouraged states and local workforce investment boards to use the funds to create meaningful work experiences for these young people in summer 2009.

    This report was prepared by the Center for Youth and Communities of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University with a grant awarded by the Employment and Training Administration. The report documents the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act summer youth employment initiative in four featured communities: Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana; Phoenix and Maricopa County, Arizona. The researchers conducted interviews and in-depth site visits over a two-week period in each community and developed individual case...

    On February 17, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, providing $1.2 billion in targeted funding for the workforce investment system to generate employment and training opportunities for economically disadvantaged youth nationwide. Congress and the U.S. Department of Labor encouraged states and local workforce investment boards to use the funds to create meaningful work experiences for these young people in summer 2009.

    This report was prepared by the Center for Youth and Communities of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University with a grant awarded by the Employment and Training Administration. The report documents the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act summer youth employment initiative in four featured communities: Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana; Phoenix and Maricopa County, Arizona. The researchers conducted interviews and in-depth site visits over a two-week period in each community and developed individual case studies describing the recessionary challenges and strategies in the four communities during summer 2009. These four communities collectively received an infusion of more than $37 million and provided an estimated 16,650 summer jobs for low-income and disadvantaged youth. The report describes the local context for implementation, provides insight into specific assets and innovations that were used to achieve the community goals, and identifies elements of best practices and lessons that may inform future summer youth employment initiatives. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Dion, M. Robin; Avellar, Sarah A.; Clary, Elizabeth
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    The Building Strong Families (BSF) project was launched in 2002 to develop, implement, and rigorously test voluntary interventions aimed at strengthening the families of unmarried couples with children. BSF programs were implemented by non-profit and public agencies at 12 locations in seven states, and enrolled more than 5,000 volunteer couples, who were randomly assigned by the BSF research team to an intervention or control group. The intervention featured up to 42 hours of multi-couple group sessions led by trained facilitators, focusing on skills that, according to earlier research, are associated with relationship and marital stability and satisfaction. The BSF project grew out of research in four areas: demographic shifts in family formation; the consequences of those shifts for the well-being of children; the needs and circumstances of low-income families; and the potential of relationship education for strengthening the families of unmarried couples.

    The purpose of this Executive Summary and the accompanying report is to document the design and implementation of...

    The Building Strong Families (BSF) project was launched in 2002 to develop, implement, and rigorously test voluntary interventions aimed at strengthening the families of unmarried couples with children. BSF programs were implemented by non-profit and public agencies at 12 locations in seven states, and enrolled more than 5,000 volunteer couples, who were randomly assigned by the BSF research team to an intervention or control group. The intervention featured up to 42 hours of multi-couple group sessions led by trained facilitators, focusing on skills that, according to earlier research, are associated with relationship and marital stability and satisfaction. The BSF project grew out of research in four areas: demographic shifts in family formation; the consequences of those shifts for the well-being of children; the needs and circumstances of low-income families; and the potential of relationship education for strengthening the families of unmarried couples.

    The purpose of this Executive Summary and the accompanying report is to document the design and implementation of BSF programs, report on services received by the program group to which the intervention was offered, analyze characteristics of couples and programs that may affect participation, and describe the experiences of program group couples. A report on the effectiveness of BSF—its impacts on the lives of couples and their children—is expected in 2010. (author abstract)

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