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Urban Institute

Funds raised for child poverty should rely on evidence for greater impact

Earlier this summer, many people-including celebrities, Urban Institute staff, and philanthropic leaders like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett-got their "red noses on" for a good cause: raising awareness and funds to help end child poverty.

Funds raised for child poverty - Urban Institute

This year's Red Nose Day raised over $38 million in the United States, about a 20 percent increase from last year. Since its stateside launch in 2015, the campaign has brought in an estimated $98 million to support programs across the United States and in some of the poorest communities in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

So what's next? Now that fundraising is over, organizer Comic Relief must distribute the funds to its partner charities, which include Boys & Girls Clubs of America, charity: water, Children's Health Fund, Covenant House, Feeding America, National Council of La Raza, Save the Children, The Global Fund, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

With stagnant federal spending on children and forthcoming cuts to the social safety net, it is important for these philanthropic organizations to use available funds responsibly and invest in programs that can make a meaningful difference in a child's life.

For decades, Urban Institute scholars have offered solutions to inform policymakers, practitioners, and philanthropists how to best align efforts and resources to address child poverty. Urban also supports the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, a collaboration among 24 leading scholars and practitioners to identify breakthrough strategies to dramatically increase mobility from poverty.

Based on what we've learned, here are three recent evidence-based insights that charities could use to tailor on-the-ground efforts and make the best use of Red Nose Day funds:

-->> Early interventions are key. Research suggests that about 69 percent of persistently poor children are born poor. Investing in programs that connect expecting mothers to resources and programs for which they are eligible can help them avoid entering or staying in poverty.

-->> Connecting primary caregivers to available resources is important. Research suggests that certain parent and family characteristics, such as parents' education level, income, employment status, and health, are connected to a child's well-being, and ultimately to their future life trajectory. Investing in programs that connect parents to available services and workforce programs can make children's lives better from the start.

-->> Where you grow up matters. Neighborhoods play an important role in child development. Addressing distressed conditions can mean access to better schools and better opportunities for poor children and their families.

Now that Red Nose Day funds are in, charities should make the best use of these funds by relying on evidence-based research for on-the-ground initiatives.

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