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Self Sufficiency Standard

Evaluation Tool

The Self-Sufficiency Standard has been used to evaluate economic development proposals and outcomes for clients and grantees. Using the Standard can help determine whether businesses seeking tax breaks or other government subsidies will create jobs that pay “living wages.” If the jobs to be created pay wages that are below the Standard so that the employees will need public work supports to be able to meet their basic needs, the new business is essentially seeking a “double subsidy.” By evaluating wages and outcomes in terms of the Standard, programs are using a measure of true effectiveness. Such evaluations can help redirect resources to approaches that result in improved outcomes for participants and more efficient use of limited foundation and government funding.

  • Dr. Pearce testified as an expert witness in a court case, City of Richland vs. Wakefield, for a woman who was ordered to pay court fees, despite her inability to pay. Thanks in part to Dr. Pearce's testimony, the woman ultimately did not have to pay the court fees.
  • In Rochester, New York, St. Joseph's Neighborhood Center uses the Standard to establish co-pays for health care services it provides to uninsured and underinsured clients.
  • In New York's Finger Lakes Region, Monroe Community College used the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Monroe County as benchmark to measure occupational wage outcomes against in their report Measuring Middle-Skills Occupational Gaps.
  • Colorado’s Fort Carson is one of the first military bases to consider reviewing its vendor contracts using the Self-Sufficiency Standard. Their sustainability plan would seek vendors who pay “livable wages” to their employees, as defined by the Standard.
  • In Nebraska, the Nebraska Appleseed Center has developed a set of job quality standards that corporations should follow prior to receiving public funds.
  • The Delaware Economic Development Office has used the Delaware Self-Sufficiency Standard to evaluate strategic fund grant applications in order to focus its resources on quality employment growth.
  • In Washington State, the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County adopted the Self-Sufficiency Standard as its official measure of self-sufficiency and uses the Standard as a program evaluation benchmark. Using data collected by caseworkers and the online Self-Sufficiency Standard Calculator, the Council demonstrates the impact of its education and training programs on the achievement of self-sufficiency by its participants.
  • The Colorado Center on Law and Policy successfully lobbied the Eastern Regional Workforce Board in Fort Morgan, Colorado to officially adopt the Self-Sufficiency Standard to determine eligibility for training and intensive services.
  • ACHIEVEability in Pennsylvania works to break the cycle of poverty by helping families move towards financial freedom. They use the Standard to measure progress towards financial self-sufficiency.
  • Sonoma County, California adopted the Standard as its formal measure of self-sufficiency and as a benchmark for measuring success in welfare to work programs.
  • Under its Workforce Investment Act, the Chicago Workforce Investment Board adopted the Self-Sufficiency Standard as its self-sufficiency benchmark.
  • The Standard was used as a living wage estimate in an evaluation of Maryland's refugee resettlement program by the Roosevelt Institute, "Raising Refugee Voices: Promoting Participatory Refugee Resettlement Evaluation in Maryland."

By Foundations:

  • The United Way of the Bay Area and Y&H Soda Foundation are evaluating the success of their grantees by how effectively they are able to move families toward self-sufficiency, as defined by the Self-Sufficiency Standard. Both of these foundations recognize that the most effective way to design job training and direct service programs is to know the actual costs that clients are facing.
  • The United Way of Butler County has established a goal of reducing the number of families and individuals living below the self-sufficiency standard by 30% by the year 2030 – “30 by 30,” and has allocated funds to local nonprofits working towards this goal.
  • The Women’s Fund of Mississippi revamped their grant-making and advocacy work to focus on the overall goal of economic self-sufficiency for women, using the Self Sufficiency Standard as the underlying blueprint for these changes.
  • The San Diego Women's Foundation focused their 2013-2014 grant cycle on proposals that would help families move to self-sufficiency. They defined their target population as families with incomes higher than the Federal Poverty Level but lower than the Self-Sufficiency Standard for San Diego.
  • The Women’s Fund of Southern Arizona established the Equity and Opportunity Fund in 2008 to address issues of women’s economic self-sufficiency. They use the Standard as their definition of self-sufficiency.