Social IMPACT Research Center Publications

The Social IMPACT Research Center has an extensive portfolio of needs assessment and evaluation research on issues facing poor and low-income populations. Our user-friendly work equips nonprofits, foundations, and governments to advance real-world solutions to poverty.
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Featured

Never Fully Free: The Scale and Impact of Permanent Punishments on People with Criminal Records in Illinois

June 29, 2020

This first-of-its-kind study confirms that more than 3.3 million people in Illinois could be impacted by permanent punishments as a result of prior "criminal justice system" involvement, which is more accurately referred to as the "criminal legal system" given the well-documented inequities that bring into question whether the system actually brings justice to people who come into contact with it."Never Fully Free: The Scale and Impact of Permanent Punishments on People with Criminal Records in Illinois," lifts up that permanent punishments are the numerous laws and barriers aimed at people with records that limit their human rights and restrict access to the crucial resources needed to re-build their lives, such as employment, housing, and education. The report recommends a broad dismantling of permanent punishments, so that those who have been involved with the criminal legal system have the opportunity to fully participate in society.The data illustrates the dramatic number of people who may be living with the stigma and limitations of a criminal record in Illinois. Since the advent of mass incarceration in 1979, there are an estimated 3.3 million adults who have been arrested or convicted of a crime in Illinois. Under current laws, these individuals have limited rights even after their criminal legal system involvement has ended. In fact, the report uncovered a vast web of 1,189 laws in Illinois that punish people with criminal records, often indefinitely.

Featured

Illinois and Chicago Region: Poverty, Income and Health Insurance

September 26, 2019

Millions of people in Illinois experience poverty or are living on the brink. That societal position keeps opportunities out of reach and nearly guarantees worse outcomes in every quality of life domain—making ALL of us worse off. The poverty rate for the United States was 11.8% in 2018, a decline of 0.5 percentage points from 2017. There were 38.1 million people in poverty nationwide. In 2018, 1.5 million Illinoisans were in poverty—a rate of 12.1%. Additionally, 2.0 million Illinoisans are near poor and economically insecure with incomes between 100% and 199% of the federal poverty threshold. This year marks the first time that the U.S.poverty rate is below pre-recession levels; Illinois lags behind this trend,with its poverty rate just returning to pre-recession levels.

Featured

The Gender Disadvantage: Why Inequity Persists

March 13, 2019

Poverty does not treat everyone equally. Women, children, gender minorities, and people of color are often the hardest hit. And while women in poverty experience the same issues that all people in poverty experience—income inequality, unemployment, poor health, violence, trauma, and more—the odds are often uniquely stacked against them in gendered ways.There are 6.5 million women. and an estimated 50,000 trans people living in Illinois. They are a driving force in our economy and care for our children, sick, and elderly, and yet continue to face discrimination and inequitable opportunities. This year's annual report on poverty in Illinois shows how gender, gender identity, and gender norms shape experiences of poverty for women and gender minorities—and how women who have other marginalized identities experience even more inequity. If we want to dramatically reduce poverty, improving the well-being of women— particularly women of color—would deliver the biggest return.

Asset Building & Financial Security; Poverty
Featured

The 2018 Illinois Poverty Update

April 19, 2018

Heartland Alliance's Illinois Poverty Update indicates that millions of people in Illinois are experiencing poverty or are on the cusp. Rooted in inequity, poverty prevents people from meeting basic needs, improving their quality of life, and creates barriers to opportunities including quality education, stable employment, affordable housing and safe neighborhoods. The update sheds light on who is most likely to experience poverty in Illinois: Women, people of color, and children have the highest poverty rates.In addition to the Illinois Poverty Update, Heartland Alliance also released state legislative district poverty fact sheets.These releases are the first of a series Heartland Alliance is publishing on poverty in Illinois this year. Local- and county-level data books will be published this summer, and an in-depth exploration of the forces that contribute to gender-based poverty inequity will be released in the fall. 

Poverty
Featured

Cycle of Risk: The Intersection of Poverty, Violence, and Trauma

March 15, 2017

Chicago is currently facing a devastating surge in lethal violence in addition to staggering rates of poverty across Illinois. Policymakers and community leaders are struggling with finding short- and long-term solutions to stem the violence and allow neighborhoods to heal. In the meantime, communities are fearing for their own safety and grieving over lost parents, children, friends, and leaders every day. The stakes forgetting the solutions right could not be higher. Poverty and violence often intersect, feed one another, and share root causes. Neighborhoods with high levels of violence are also characterized by high levels of poverty, lack of adequate public services and educational opportunity, poorer health outcomes, asset and income inequality, and more. The underlying socioeconomic conditions in these neighborhoods perpetuate both violence and poverty. Furthermore, trauma can result from both violence and poverty. Unaddressed trauma worsens quality of life, makes it hard to rise out of poverty by posing barriers to success at school and work, and raises the likelihood of aggressive behavior. In this way, untreated trauma—coupled with easy gun availability and other factors—feeds the cycle of poverty and violence.

THE COVID-19 DOMINO EFFECT: How the pandemic deepened systemic oppression for Black and Latino Illinoisans

July 12, 2021

COVID-19 and the resulting instability has left an indelible mark on every corner of our society. The compounding stressors of uncertain futures, health crises, isolation, financial strain, individual and collective trauma, and juggling life responsibilities is taking a massive toll on people. While the virus itself does not discriminate, the systems in place and the responses do: Black and Latino people are bearing the brunt of the negative impacts.The following data and stories illustrate how the pandemic started a domino effect for Black and Latino Illinoisans. When you are already living on the edge, losing one support can cause others to crumble. Just as the ripple effects of the pandemic did not affect us equally, the recovery must not take a one-size-fits-all approach. We must invest in the hardest hit communities—and that means providing a foundation for people of color to heal and thrive.

Heartland Alliance Comment on the Consumer Inflation Measures Produced by Federal Statistical Agencies (

June 20, 2019

Submitted public comment on the proposed change to the poverty measure in the US.

Comment letter re. differential privacy in American Community Survey and Census microdata

December 6, 2018

The Census Bureau released a proposal for new procedures to ensure the confidentiality of public use data, using a strategy called differential privacy. This comment letter raises concerns that the proposed new disclosure avoidance system, which relies on injecting noise with formal privacy rules, would significantly reduce or even eliminate the usability of public use microdata. IMPACT and researchers across the country rely on these data to understand phenomena at geographies or aggregations that are not routinely published in Census or ACS summary tables. The flexibility provided by the microdata allows IMPACT to be responsive to unique program and policy questions and help decision-makers in Chicago and Illinois understand how to craft policies and distribute resources in a way that meets the needs of particular populations.You can also view the letter via the regulations.gov website: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=USBC-2018-0009-0648

Report on the Implementation and Early Outcomes of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership’s Career Connect Project

June 12, 2018

In July 2012, the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (The Partnership) was awarded a three-yearWorkforce Innovation Fund (WIF) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration. The purpose of The Partnership's WIF project was to design, implement, and test an integrated workforce management information system (MIS), later named Career Connect, that:- Contains comprehensive and useful program- and customer-specific measures acrossfunding streams- Supports varied reporting capabilities; and- Provides the information necessary to adequately serve the needs of the workforce system'scustomers.The functional goal for the project is to have all Cook County workforce providers that receiveWorkforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Title I funds (delegate agencies) using CareerConnect as their data system of record. This included 49 delegate agencies when the project beganand 53 by the time Career Connect was fully implemented in June 2017. Additionally, the goal is toinvite non-WIOA workforce providers to also use the system, though The Partnership cannot mandate its use for non-WIOA providers.In the following study, we:- Assess whether Career Connect achieved its desired outcomes;- Document the context and operations of Career Connect's design;- Assess the degree to which it was implemented as designed; and- Evaluate stakeholder participation.

Permanent Supportive Housing & Medicaid Providers: A Description of the Health Neighborhood Demonstration Project

December 19, 2017

Permanent supportive housing providers interested in diversifying their funding sources may want to consider Medicaid as a way of supporting its services. The complexity involved with administering Medicaid can be a barrier for many PSH providers, however. In response to this issue, Heartland Health Outreach's Health Neighborhood Demonstration Project is implementing innovative ways to help permanent supportive housing providers benefit from Medicaid funding and improve health outcomes for HHO participants without having to take on the burdens of becoming Medicaid billers. The brief outlines the Health Neighborhood model and implementation, lessons learned, and key considerations for other organizations considering similar partnerships.

Housing & Homelessness

New 2016 Poverty Data for Illinois & Chicago

September 14, 2017

This fact sheet presents the latest data on poverty, income, and health insurance for Illinois, Chicago, and the surrounding Chicago region counties. (For smaller counties outside the Chicago region, refer to www.ilpovertyreport.org).

Poverty; Safety Net & Human Services

Building Brighter Futures: Children's Savings Accounts in Illinois

August 22, 2017

In 2009, the Illinois General Assembly created a bipartisan task force to explore a CSA program in the state. The task force recommended that a savings account should be opened automatically at birth for every child born in Illinois, using the Bright Start Direct College Savings Program as the savings vehicle.This report examines what it will take to make these recommendations a reality. To better understand the Bright Start program and how to make it an effective savings tool for all families, we look at how Illinoisans are currently using Bright Start, and explore the challenges low-income families and families of color face in using Bright Start to save for college. We also examine how a CSA program could impact the racial wealth gap in Illinois. Finally, we make policy recommendations for the design and implementation of a CSA program to help Illinois families save for higher education.

Asset Building & Financial Security; Education; Poverty

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