New Hope Project

The New Hope Project was a demonstration program created by community and business leaders and operated in Milwaukee from 1994 to 1998. Designed to be replicable by public assistance and government agencies, New Hope provided a unique combination of widely implemented work supports for low income individuals and families within one program: it offered participants job search assistance, transitional jobs, earnings supplements, and subsidized child care and health insurance. Participants were required to work at least 30 hours per week to earn these benefits (MDRC-New Hope).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased employment

  • Increased income

  • Increased earnings

  • Increased academic achievement

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that the New Hope Project increased employment, earnings, and income among participating families, and improved academic and behavioral outcomes for participant’s children, particularly boys. Effects were strongest in the short-term (MDRC-Miller 2008, , ). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

The New Hope Project increased participants’ employment, earnings, and income in the short-term. Economic effects faded for most participants after the program ended, but participants with only one barrier to employment continued to increase their employment rates and income for at least four years after services ended. Participants were also better insured than non-participants only for the short-term but had better health outcomes for at least a year following program participation (MDRC-Miller 2008).

Children whose parents participated in New Hope performed better academically than comparable peers in the short-term. Over the long-term, participants’ children continued to be more engaged at school (, MDRC-Miller 2008), less likely to be in special education, and repeat grades less often than comparable peers (MDRC-Miller 2008). These effects were particularly strong for boys (, MDRC-Miller 2008). Four years after the program ended, adolescents whose parents participated in the program were more likely to be engaged in employment and career preparation activities than their peers (MDRC-Miller 2008). Black adolescent males also worked for longer periods during the school year than comparable peers and were more optimistic about their long-term employment prospects ().

New Hope cost approximately $18,000 per family. Participants were limited to three years of benefits (), and rarely used all benefits at once (MDRC-Miller 2008).

Impact on Disparities

Likely to decrease disparities

Implementation Resources

Hamilton-Bos 2007 - Bos H, Duncan GJ, Gennetian LA, Hill HD. New hope: Fulfilling America’s promise to “make work pay.” The Hamilton Project. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution; 2007.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

MDRC-Miller 2008 - Miller C, Huston AC, Duncan GJ, McLoyd VC, Weisner TS. New hope for the working poor: Effects after eight years for families and children. New York: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC); 2008.

Huston 2011* - Huston AC, Gupta AE, Walker JT, et al. The long-term effects on children and adolescents of a policy providing work supports for low-income parents. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. 2011;30(4):729-54.

McLoyd 2011* - McLoyd VC, Kaplan R, Purtell KM, Huston AC. Assessing the effects of a work-based antipoverty program for parents on youth’s future orientation and employment experiences. Child Development. 2011;82(1):113-32.

Date Last Updated

May 11, 2014