Archived Project

Results First Initiative

The Results First initiative worked with states to implement an innovative evidence-based policymaking approach that helped them invest in policies and programs that were proven to work.

Using Evidence to Deliver Results

States and counties spend billions of dollars on critical services and programs to help protect and improve public health, support reentry for individuals who were formerly incarcerated, and protect children from abuse and neglect—yet many state and county leaders lack comprehensive information about the impact of those expenditures. Results First aimed to fill that information gap.

From 2010 to 2023, the Results First initiative helped 27 states and 10 counties use evidence and customizable tools such as cost-benefit analysis to inform their policy and budget processes and direct funding to effective programs that can provide a return on taxpayer investments.

Initially, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts partnered on the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative from 2010 to 2019. This work equipped state and local decision-makers with resources to better evaluate their policy options, using research to identify program investments that can improve long-term public outcomes. 

How We Conducted Our Work

Results First provided assistance and a suite of tools to help state and county leaders use evidence to improve their programs and policies. Those included:

  • The Results First Clearinghouse Database, an online resource that brought together information on social policy programs from nine national clearinghouses.
  • The Resource Center, a one-stop shop of the project’s research on evidence-based policymaking, including state-specific case studies.
  • Customized trainings and technical assistance.

We supported state and county leaders who faced tough budget and policy choices by helping them identify programs that were proven to yield the greatest benefits, building a climate for decision-making that was based on research and evidence. Our approach and tools allowed states to better understand and assess existing efforts, prioritize investments in proven interventions, eliminate ineffective programs, and shift scarce resources to policies and programs that could generate better outcomes for their citizens.

Modeled after the U.S. Capitol with its brilliant gold dome, the Colorado State Capitol offers free tours on weekdays. The Capitol's 13th step is exactly one mile above sea level, hence the nickname "Mile High City", Denver, CO, USA.
Modeled after the U.S. Capitol with its brilliant gold dome, the Colorado State Capitol offers free tours on weekdays. The Capitol's 13th step is exactly one mile above sea level, hence the nickname "Mile High City", Denver, CO, USA.
Issue Brief

Cross-Branch Collaboration Helps Evidence-Based Policymaking

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Issue Brief

Over the past decade, The Pew Results First initiative has worked with 27 states to implement an innovative evidence-based policymaking approach that helps them to invest in policies and programs that are proved to work—ensuring that states moved over $1.1 billion toward more effective services.

Looking Back and Moving Forward
Looking Back and Moving Forward
Video

Results First: Looking Back and Moving Forward

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Video

The Results First initiative launched in 2010 to help states understand and incorporate evidence use into their budgeting and policymaking processes. By 2017, Results First had partnered with 27 states throughout the country, and by 2019, these states had shifted more than $1 billion toward effective, evidence-based programs.

Colorado’s ‘Evidence Continuum’ Promotes Efficient, Effective Public Programs
Colorado’s ‘Evidence Continuum’ Promotes Efficient, Effective Public Programs
Issue Brief

Colorado's 'Evidence Continuum' Promotes Public Programs

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Issue Brief

Colorado is a leader among states using data and research to strengthen their budget investment choices. Since 2014, The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Results First initiative has partnered with Colorado to help the state apply research evidence to fund programs that work. To be sure that the state invests taxpayer funds in projects that are effective, the governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB) requires evidence in an agency’s budget requests for changes to program funds, including expansions, reductions, and new projects.

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Article

Results First to Transfer Project Assets to Other Organizations

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Article

For the past decade, The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Results First initiative has helped state and local leaders throughout the country better understand and use evidence to inform their budgeting and policymaking processes. Results First has developed innovative tools and resources that have assisted these stakeholders when incorporating research and evidence into their decision-making.

How Nongovernmental Stakeholders Can Support States in Advancing Evidence-Based Policymaking Report Cover Image
How Nongovernmental Stakeholders Can Support States in Advancing Evidence-Based Policymaking Report Cover Image
Report

Stakeholders Can Advance Evidence-Based Policymaking

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Report

Evidence-based policymaking has helped many states across the country ensure that their budget and policy decisions are informed by the best available data. Yet, even for those states that have made significant progress using this approach, barriers remain to institutionalizing its use. By ensuring that the creation and use of evidence becomes embedded in the way state governments make decisions, leaders and policymakers can better serve their populations effectively and equitably.

Our Work

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Results First

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Evidence-Based Policymaking Made Easy by 'Results First' Tool
Evidence-based policymaking
Evidence-based policymaking

Evidence-Based Policymaking Resource Center

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Evidence-Based Policymaking Resource Center

In 2014, the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative developed a framework for state and county leaders interested in evidence-based policymaking. This framework consists of five key components to help governments use rigorous evidence and data to guide policy and funding decisions.