MDRC was established in 1974 by the Ford Foundation and six agencies of the federal government. The “Great Society” programs of the 1960s had been launched with great fanfare and hope that they would end poverty in America, but because clear measures of their effectiveness were lacking, these programs were the subjects of unsubstantiated claims of both success and criticism. MDRC's founders sought to establish a new kind of organization that would build a compelling body of evidence on whether social programs improve the lives of low-income individuals and families and are a cost-effective use of taxpayer dollars. MDRC has broadened its original focus on programs targeted to low-income youth and adults to include evaluations of a wide variety of programs' effects on children, families, ...

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