Criminal Justice

LJAF’s Criminal Justice Initiative aims to advance community safety and the values of equity, fairness, effectiveness, and racial justice. In the coming years, we will explore opportunities to accelerate progress in five key policy domains: Policing, Pretrial Justice, Community Supervision, Prisons, and Reintegration. To achieve our goals, we support activities that foster research, policy reform, and evidence-based innovations. We work with teams of experts from inside and outside the criminal justice field to conduct research, build evidence, create tools for practitioners, and partner with local jurisdictions to pilot and test new policies and practices. We recognize that research, data, and evidence can help define a criminal justice issue, serve as the leading edge into exploration and innovation, measure the effectiveness of a policy or practice, and elevate a successful reform so it is widely adopted. By leveraging these strategies and working with our partners, we hope to drive innovation and accelerate the adoption of proven reforms in society’s response to crime and the pursuit of justice.

Over the next several years, we will work with research and practitioner partners to gather ideas, and will release RFPs on a regular basis to solicit proposals within each policy domain. You can find out more information and subscribe to our listserv by visiting the Foundation’s Contact page.

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LJAF’s investments in K-12 education seek to advance the portfolio model of school governance. This alternative structure separates school oversight from campus operations. It is based on policies that promote a decentralized administration and more school choice for families as well as increased flexibility and accountability for leaders and educators. We believe that schools and school systems that prioritize these principles can address systemic inequities and improve educational outcomes.

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Evidence-Based Policy

LJAF works to develop and support initiatives that encourage governments and nonprofit organizations to help build the evidence base for social interventions and to consider reliable evidence as one of the primary factors in their decisions. The goal is to ensure that limited resources are spent wisely on programs that produce meaningful, lasting improvements in people’s lives.

In addition, LJAF is bringing policymakers, researchers, and data experts from the public and private sectors together to strengthen the infrastructure and processes needed to support evidence-based decision making. We promote new government and philanthropic funding models that emphasize the use of evidence. We also facilitate strategic partnerships to accelerate progress and support efforts to expand access to privacy-protected data.

Many of LJAF’s grants in evidence-based policy focus on the key goal of building the body of social interventions backed by strong, replicated evidence of sizable effects on important outcomes such as educational achievement, workforce earnings, criminal arrests, substance abuse, and hospitalizations. Specifically, we seek to fund rigorous evaluations – mainly randomized controlled trials (RCTs) – of interventions backed by promising prior evidence, with the purpose of hopefully moving them into the strong evidence category. Please see the website’s Request for Proposals page for funding opportunities in this area.

As an illustrative example, we are funding a large, multi-site RCT of Bottom Line – a program that provides one-on-one guidance to help low-income, first-generation students get into and graduate from college. This study is measuring college enrollment, persistence, and completion outcomes for a sample of about 2,400 students over a seven-year period. Early impact findings are promising (e.g., an 8 percentage-point increase college enrollment in the second year after random assignment, and a 14 percentage-point increase in enrollment in a four-year college, versus the control group).

We also systematically monitor the program evaluation literature, and report on rigorous evaluation findings on our Social Programs That Work and Straight Talk on Evidence websites. We invite readers to subscribe to the Evidence-Based Policy team’s newsletter.

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Research Integrity

LJAF’s Research Integrity initiative aims to improve the reliability and validity of scientific research across fields that inform governmental policy, philanthropic endeavors, and individual decision making. When research is accurate, thorough, and accessible, it can have tremendously beneficial consequences for individuals and society. However, when research is flawed or hidden from public view, there is the potential for great harm. People often believe that if research is published in an academic journal, it is scientifically sound. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. A substantial portion of research does not adhere to rigorous standards for quality and transparency.

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Health Care

The United States spends more on health care than any other nation. However, it does not produce the best results. A number of interrelated problems contribute to the dysfunctional system. These include:

LJAF is funding a number of organizations to address these issues. We seeded the Center for Healthcare Transparency (CHT), which seeks to make reliable information about health care quality and costs readily available so that patients, physicians, and employers can make more informed decisions. CHT is working to establish a set of common protocols that can be used by regional data centers to integrate and disseminate various sources of information, including medical claims, clinical data, and patient surveys. By expanding access to information about the quality and cost of care provided by local doctors and medical centers—and by making it easier to compare that information—CHT aims to drive better decision making at every layer of the health care system.

We are also funding the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) and the Harvard Health Care Markets and Regulation Lab, two organizations that are analyzing health reforms across the United States. HCCI is studying the way states are implementing the Affordable Care Act in an effort to identify the reform initiatives that deliver the best results. At Harvard, researchers are conducting a number of high-quality research studies designed to help improve health care policy. The researchers are assessing the best ways to measure the quality of care, the effectiveness of alternative payment models, the impact that transparent pricing information has on patients’ decisions, and other methods aimed at transforming the system.


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Sustainable Public Finance

LJAF’s Sustainable Public Finance initiative works to promote fiscal sustainability and the effective oversight of public funds. We are funding efforts to help governments evaluate the impact of tax policies and design public pension systems that are affordable, sustainable, and secure.

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