arete gets results

Arete studies typically have had a significant impact on programs and policies. For instance:


The New York Public Library: Taming the Digital Divide
Drawing on our experience with inner-city Community Technology Centers and libraries, Arete worked with The New York Public Library (NYPL) to on a project to shrink the "digital divide" -- the gap in computer access and skills that often hampers people with lower incomes or education levels, minorities, and unemployed workers. NYPL's Click on @ the library, a program of free computer classes, mushroomed from five training centers to serve over 1,600 students per month in 42 library branches throughout the city. As NYPL reaches out to people in high-need neighborhoods, Arete has helped evaluate its success in providing essential computer skills to those who need it most. We created a comprehensive database of Click on statistics that allows the NYPL to measure its progress in reaching these groups, and compared the demographic profile of each Click on branch with US Census data for the same neighborhood. Our analysis also addressed the ways students learn about Click on, their evaluations of courses and instructors and how well the courses met their particular needs. The results of the analysis enabled NYPL to pinpoint areas that are especially strong and those that need more attention.

Learning Leaders: Proving the Effectiveness of Parent Volunteering
Arete released a major study, "Parent Volunteers Make the Difference," the result of two years of research on Learning Leaders,® one of the largest programs of parent involvement in education in the nation. Our study presented a far-reaching analysis, and quantified the diverse impacts of Learning Leaders' approach. The findings present a remarkable picture of linked positive effects when parent involvement in schools is properly structured and supported. While it is taken for granted that volunteer and parent involvement in a child's education is valuable, there is a dearth of rigorous quantitative analysis of programs that succeed. Arete's report makes a significant contribution to this research. For more details, see our Spring 2003 Newsletter, or order a copy of the report.

Reducing Overcrowding in New York City Schools
Arete completed a series of studies of the enrollment and facilities of Community School District 10, the largest district in the city, and Region 1 which faced severe overcrowding and changing demographics. We examined the distribution of special education students; patterns of overcrowding; an inventory of classroom and common room utilization for every school in the district; an analysis of the effectiveness of district-wide and limited choice schools; and rezoning of several schools. In February 2003, the CSD 10 Board voted to adopt Arete's recommendations to rezone two schools starting in September 2003.

Revamping the New York City Board of Education Budget
Engaged by the Board of Education to prepare the multi-billion annual budget plan for the school system, Dr. James Meier revamped the budget process -- instituting internal technical changes, creating broad consultation to build constituent support, and preparing a totally new budget request document.  This resulted in record increases in state and local support -- over $500 million added to the base budget in two years.

Stevens Institute of Technology: On-Line Master's Degree Program
Arete was engaged by Stevens Institute of Technology (SIT) in New Jersey to develop a business and implementation plan for a new on-line Master's degree program on the uses of technology in teaching science.  SIT not only adopted the plan but decided to expand the initiative to encompass its engineering and science departments as well.

In a subsequent project with SIT, Arete directed their successful effort to obtain a prestigious grant from the National Science Foundation to install the infrastructure for very high bandwidth networks (VBNS), informally known as second generation Internet.

Redistricting of Community School Districts in New York City
Arete staffed this temporary Commission, the first comprehensive review of the community school district boundaries in 25 years. Because the New York City Board of Education had established the Commission more than a year behind schedule, most insiders considered the time frame and task impossible. Not only did the Commission successfully complete its work on schedule in only eight months, but the subsequent pre-clearance submission to the U.S. Justice Department was approved without a single question, virtually unprecedented for such complex matters.

Impacts of Budget Cuts on Social Services in New York City
This massive research study of the budget changes from 1993-1996 was sponsored by New York University and the Community Service Society and funded by nine prominent foundations. This two-year study covered eight human service sectors: employment and training; day care; homeless services; mental health; senior services; child welfare; youth services; immigrants, advocacy and case management. It included an analysis of every program contract issued by New York City between 1992 and 1996 (some 8,000 in all) and a comprehensive survey of program, staffing, budget, client and other changes to non-profit organizations. The resulting report, which received front-page coverage in city newspapers, has been an important resource for nonprofit and research organizations.

Budget for NYC Board of Education Central Headquarters
This policy study analyzed the administrative overhead of the school system and made recommendations for streamlining. In addition to its impact on policy, this report also contains a "Handbook for Analyzing the Board of Education's Budget." In addition to providing a blueprint for downsizing the central administration, the report culminated in a technical briefing for city officials and advocates.

Strategic Alliance Fund: Inter-Agency Collaboration
Arete’s multi-year evaluation of the Strategic Alliance Fund required our developing a template that would provide some uniformity while respecting fundamental differences among over 50 different collaborative partnerships that had received grants from a pool that was itself a collaboration of funders.   Grantee organizations covered the gamut of human services (e.g., day care, mental health, seniors, settlement houses, economic development) and organizational purposes (e.g., expanded program services, fundraising, back-office efficiencies). This program, designed to foster collaboration among nonprofit agencies, was sponsored by United Way of New York City and some two dozen foundations and corporations. Our evaluation was instrumental in identifying factors that led to successful collaboration, in quantifying tangible impacts of these projects, and in obtaining significant new funding for the second and third years, as well as in modifying program directions.

National Voter Registration Study
Dr. Meier and his team carried out a nationwide voter survey under the auspices of the Ad Hoc Committee for Voter Registration under an extremely tight time schedule: three months for an extensive agenda of field visits and data collection in twenty states, as well as four intensive case studies of cities in far-flung parts of the country. The up-front effort we invested in planning and design was crucial. The study was completed on time, was very well received, and earned favorable notice in a New York Times editorial calling for greater attention to voter education.

Public Access to School Buildings
Called SPACEMAX, our assessment of the after-hour use of public school buildings in New York City, under the auspice of the City's Interagency Coordinating Council on Youth, dealt with the thorny issue of community organizations' access to and use of school buildings. With cooperation from the NYC Board of Education, the former Department of Youth Services, and various other city agencies, we drew on various databases, administered a survey to principals in 1,000-plus public schools, thoroughly analyzed the custodial contract, conducted focus groups, and produced findings and recommendations for revamping the management and cost schedule for school building use. Our study laid the groundwork for any future work in this area and had a major impact on the custodial union contract then being negotiated.

Educational Evaluation
Dr. Meier reviewed the entire evaluation process for the New York City Board of Education's Office of Evaluations in the 1980s. His recommendations on how to improve both the timeliness and the usefulness of the process made it into a more effective tool for decisions about future program directions.