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Morino Institute From Access to Outcomes: Digital Divide Report and Dialogue
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Working Through the Community




Dec 12, 2000


John Middleton

Some thoughts on cost-effectiveness in the context of poor communities.

On the dependent variable "effectiveness"

We can measure positive impacts, using achievement of the NPO goals as a proxy. Is it former prisoners at work? If so, we should not stop with their earnings relative to others without the NPO intervention but also include social costs avoided due to the intervention (i.e. prison costs, law enforcement costs, costs to crime victims). An inclusive set of measures, based hopefully on empirical research, can help us in this regard.

On costs:

There are strong public goods arguments for subsidies of social programs that recognize that all of the impacts cannot be quantified in a cost/benefit ratio.

The issue would seem to me to be to compare the investments in community infrastructure against the alternatives. There is a huge evaluation literature that could be consulted.

Trust would seem to me to be gained when organizations succeed in helping the poor, thus earning their trust. But beyond that, the poor have to be able to articulate their trust and why they place it.

It is on this line of reasoning that I think that the Morino strategy should centrally include a public communication and lobbying component that magnifies the voiced of the poor and enables them to say what they trust, what they do not, and why.

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