From its start in 1984 America Works has been persistent in the critical evaluation of its programs. While many are satisfied that good intentions dictate accomplishment, doing good has never been our measure of a successful program. Therefore, we have constantly reviewed our programs and have, when warranted, publicized and advocated for the policies they suggested.
The first major policy we supported based on our programs’ operations was that work first was a better strategy to reduce welfare than education and training programs. In the mid-80’s this was met with angry denunciations and scorn by the most important spokespeople for welfare policy. But our experience and studies proved this to be the case and this was immortalized in the welfare reforms passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton. Work first became the strategy for reducing the rolls and getting people working.
Our most ambitious research is now under way. Supported by The Smith Richardson Foundation, spur headed by The Manhattan Institute and researched by Public Private Ventures, America Works is currently operating a prison to work program. The research, the first in the nation, is a controlled -experimental model that will finally answer the question-Does work reduce recidivism to crime. The results, expected in 2012, will have broad policy implications for government and crime fighting.
We will continue periodic assessment of our programs. The recently launched veterans to work program will undergo rigorous evaluation and may well become a potent strategy for assisting our returning vets. Good deeds are not enough in the business of changing lives. Success is and we pledge to continue honest and critical review of all our programs to better educate the public in what works and what does not.