The first national report of Getting Ahead (GA) outcomes, which was released in early January, shows 62% of GA graduates reduced their use of benefits, 74% decreased their total debt, and 38% increased their monthly income. Thanks to the 199 participating GA grads, facilitators, and organizers from 38 sites in eight states (evaluated from September 2013 to December 2016), we have our first look at data that will grow quickly as other GA groups join CharityTracker’s data-collection system.
We know that the Bridges Out of Poverty movement must prove its effectiveness, and much of that has to do with how GA graduates benefit from the Bridges model in their communities.
Bridges sites contract directly with CharityTracker for training and services. aha! Process’s role is to pay for the development of the tools and the reports. Each site gets reports on its own outcomes, along with comparative state and national data provided by aha! Process. Solid and convincing information is helpful when writing grants and securing funding.
The report (see below) provides anonymous information on the increase in stability, the growth of 11 resources, and the return on investment (or ROI). These elements derive from the Getting Ahead theory of change that instability makes it difficult for under-resourced people to take charge of their lives, make changes, and build resources.
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It should be noted that GA sites also report on fidelity to the GA model so that funders and communities can be assured of results with a high degree of consistency.
As the data accumulate, our Bridges learning community will be able to identify patterns in the growth of stability and resources, as well as the correlation between them. Individuals have more control of some stabilizing factors than others. For example, we might less control over the destructive behaviors of others than we do of our own thinking patterns and actions. In the same way, some resources may be built more quickly than others: physical resources, including health and fitness, might develop more rapidly than relationships across class or political lines.
Stay tuned for what future reports will tell us. Better yet, if you or your community offers Getting Ahead, please consider collecting data through CharityTracker and thereby contribute to our larger learning community.
Phil DeVol is an international consultant who has been working with aha! Process since 1997. He used aha! Process concepts to make institutional changes at the addiction treatment center where he was the executive director for 19 years. During this time he also co-wrote Bridges Out of Poverty with Ruby Payne and Terie Dreussi-Smith. His book Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-by-World is being used to engage people in poverty in the work of building communities where everyone can live well. It worked so well that DeVol used it as a basis for a prison reentry model called Getting Ahead while Getting Out. Click to learn more about Phil DeVol.