Project Match: Illinois – 1988 Innovations Winner
Located in one of the most troubled housing projects in Chicago, the job training program known as Project Match has an unusual approach to the task of bringing welfare recipients into the world of work. Rather than trying to broker a simple job placement, the program tries to encourage long-term change in the habits and living style of its hard-to-place population, in part by creating a social atmosphere in which work and ambition are valued. But because it receives funds from the Illinois Department of Public Aid, Project Match finds itself under pressure to produce job-placement results which demonstrate its success. The program itself urges authorities to find ways to quantify success besides simply finding someone a job – and places a premium on keeping track of those it’s trying to help, long after a first job placement. The case highlights the challenges of social service program evaluation, as well as the problems an innovative agency has explaining itself to traditional bureaucracies with which it must deal.