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2020 Annual Poverty Research and Policy Forum

One Destination, Many Roads: Envisioning Universal Measures of Economic Mobility

The 2020 Annual Poverty Research and Policy Forum was held virtually on September 9, 2020 and September 16, 2020. The forum brought together a diverse group of individuals to discuss innovative strategies for measuring and reporting common economic mobility outcomes across federal programs and using integrated data for evidence building purposes.


Federal workforce and human services programs often measure specific program targets rather than shared progress on overarching participant outcomes related to economic mobility. As a result, there is limited evidence of the extent to which these programs promote self-sufficiency and economic mobility, and program silo-ing is reinforced. This event presented a unique opportunity to convene stakeholders and expertise from the practitioner, policymaking, and research communities to learn from one another, exchange ideas, and begin the hard work of developing a roadmap for addressing this gap.

The Forum was designed to forward the goals and priorities of the Interagency Council on Economic Mobility, led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Council aims to improve federal coordination and focuses on cross-cutting issues that cannot be accomplished by a single agency on its own. Innovations and lessons from this event can be applied to federal efforts to learn how to better promote family-sustaining careers and economic well-being. To have a shared vision for outcomes that indicate progress, silos need to be broken down and the focus needs to be on helping people succeed.

Goals and Objectives

  1. Make a case for the value of measuring and reporting common outcomes across public programs that promote economic mobility. Demonstrate the value to participants, program administrators, policy makers, and the public despite no requirements to do so.
  2. Showcase and consider best practices for how to measure and report common outcomes across programs by learning from states and localities that are engaged in measurement and reporting of common outcomes.
  3. Help to establish a vision for achieving shared outcome measures across federal human services and workforce programs: discuss strategies, define ideal outcome metrics, identify stakeholder needs and priorities, and envision perceived opportunities and barriers.
  4. Begin building a five-year work plan for the U.S. Interagency Council on Economic Mobility work on aligning program outcomes data and identify emerging next steps.

Event Materials

The Annual Poverty Research and Policy Forum was convened by the Office of Human Services Policy, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.