Resources to Support Implementation

Featured resources: See the links below for resources to support SEAs’ evidence-based grantmaking, including RFA’s Evidence-Based Grantmaking Checklist. 

Evidence-Based Grantmaking Checklist

Use this checklist in combination with the strategies in the Education Evidence-Based Spending Guide to incorporate evidence regularly and consistently into grant programs.

Clearly Define Evidence

  • RFA's Evidence Definitions support government leaders to learn, improve and invest in what works. RFA additionally distinguishes between “Evidence-Based Program” and “Evidence-Building Program” and the various types of evidence that might go into each.

  • Results for America’s Honor Roll of State Grant Programs that Define and Prioritize Evidence includes 17 examples of grant programs administered by SEAs that define and prioritize evidence of effectiveness as of October 1, 2023.

  • More resources on how SEAs can define evidence within their grant programs are available here.

  • The Evidence Provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

  • U.S. Department of Education Grant Programs that Define and Prioritize Evidence

  • AmeriCorps has a common evidence framework for funding decisions in the Senior Corps and AmeriCorps state and national programs, including pre-preliminary, preliminary, moderate, and strong evidence tiers. In fiscal year 2022, 64% of competitively awarded funds were invested in interventions with moderate and strong evidence. In 2023, 30 states used this federal definition of evidence in their most recent AmeriCorps grant applications.

  • The Colorado Workforce Development Council developed an evidence continuum to inform the creation and delivery of technical assistance to build capacity and increase the body of evidence for effective talent initiatives in Colorado.

  • The Results First Initiative within the state of Minnesota’s Management and Budget Office created an evidence framework to rate the state’s programs and services. In this framework, programs and services are considered evidence-based if they fall in the “Proven Effective” or “Promising” categories. Ratings from each program are publicized in the Minnesota Inventory, a state evidence clearinghouse. The Colorado Workforce Development Council developed an evidence continuum to inform the creation and delivery of technical assistance to build capacity and increase the body of evidence for effective talent initiatives in Colorado.

  • In 2019, the state of New Mexico passed the Evidence and Research Based Funding Requests Act, which defined four tiers of evidence and required state agencies to categorize sub-programs according to these tiers and report on the amount allocated for each tier. Each year, New Mexico’s Legislative Finance Committee oversees this work, providing budget guidance for agencies, recommendations for evidence-based programs, training, and technical assistance.

  • The Tennessee Evidence Framework considers programs evidence-based if they are supported by at least one rigorous evaluation. This framework is used as part of a program inventory to identify how funding is allocated across different programs, the services provided, and any evidence tied to the program’s outcomes. For Tennessee, rigorous evaluations include randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental designs that use comparison groups.

  • The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) began using its Evidence Framework to prioritize evidence of effectiveness when awarding $1.5 million in training grants for the 2021 Building and Construction Trades Program, which prepares youth for employment in construction occupations. TWC provided up to 10 points (out of 110) to applicants based on the causal evidence supporting each application, and up to 15% of grant payments were tied to specified outputs and outcomes, including participation completion, receipt of industry-based certification and employment. For more details, see pages 5-9 of the grant solicitation. TWC has continued to leverage this framework across other grant programs including the Texas Talent Connection Program, Perkins Equitable Access and Opportunity Program, and additional rounds of Building and Construction Trades grants (2022, 2023).

Define Desired Outcomes

Build Evidence Through Evaluations

  • Chicago Beyond’s Why Am I Always Being Studied? aims to level the playing field between researchers and communities during evaluations. The guidebook includes questions and considerations for researchers, community-based organizations, and funders to ensure evaluations reflect community needs, goals, experience and expertise.

Implement Performance Management in Grants

Additional Resources

  • Investing in What Works 101. These slides contain examples of how federal and state agencies are investing in what works through grants, contracts, budget systems, and direct services.