The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative in Pennsylvania

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative in Pennsylvania

This page was updated in March 2020 to note the conclusion of the commonwealth’s work with the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative. 


In March 2017, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency partnered with the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative to implement the Results First approach for a subset of state and grant-funded programs. The commission, in collaboration with the Evidence-based Prevention and Intervention Support Center (EPISCenter) at Pennsylvania State University, provides financial and technical assistance to justice-related programs at the state and local levels. Using Results First tools, the commission sought to estimate the state-specific return on investment of its evidence-based programs that cross multiple policy areas, including child welfare, juvenile justice, and behavioral health.


The commission’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, in coordination with EPISCenter, led the Results First project with data collection support from the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission, the Department of Corrections, and Penn State’s Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center. To account for variations in program costs throughout the state, the commission produced a range of return on investment estimates relative to low, medium, and high program delivery costs.


In 2018, the commission released a report summarizing the anticipated return on investment of 12 programs long identified as effective and evidence-based. The analysis showed a positive return on investment for a majority of the programs, supplemented by contextual information such as effectiveness rating in the Results First Clearinghouse Database, Pennsylvania-specific outcomes as available, a comparison to Washington state findings, and program-specific recommendations for developers, providers, and policymakers.

Policy impact

Following the report, the commission—which acts as the state administering agency for federal funds provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs—incorporated evidence principles into its 2018 solicitation for local initiatives to implement new services, including definitions for “evidence-based” and “promising” approaches. The solicitation encourages applicants for funding—local government agencies and community-based organizations—to use the Results First Clearinghouse Database to identify effective interventions to meet service needs.

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