A bold proposal to catalyze progress on key social policy challenges, the Ten Year Challenge: An interview with Jeffrey Liebman, Professor, Harvard Kennedy School – Episode #100

How can the nation catalyze progress on key social policy challenges? A bold proposal, called the Ten Year Challenge, calls for selecting ten important social challenges and then having the federal government fund ten communities or states to address each challenge (so 100 experiments in total), while rigorously evaluating the results. The goal would be to generate a few breakthrough approaches that could be scaled up.

To learn more, we’re joined by the proposal’s author, Jeffrey Liebman, who presented the proposal in a paper published by Results for America and the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution. Liebman is a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, Director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government, and Director of the Government Performance Lab at the Kennedy School. He previously served on the leadership team of the White House Office of Management and Budget and, prior to that, served as an economic advisor to candidate Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign.

On which challenges could the initiative focus? In the paper, Liebman provides examples, including “reducing recidivism among ex-offenders, raising third-grade reading and math skills among low-income children living in high-poverty neighborhoods, preventing youth from dropping out of high school, helping chronically unemployed individuals obtain and keep jobs, raising community college completion rates, reducing obesity-triggered diabetes, eliminating chronic and/or family homelessness, and helping developmentally-disabled youth make successful transitions into the adult workforce, among many others.”