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Oakland Promise Brilliant Baby Evaluation

Father reading to his son on the couch.
Assessing the impact of a “two-generation” intervention on college attainment
  • Client
    Oakland Promise
  • Dates
    2016 - 2027

NORC’s Early Childhood Research and Practice Collaborative is conducting a longitudinal impact evaluation of the Oakland Promise Brilliant Baby program, which is meant to improve the healthy development and economic well-being of Oakland’s children and their families. The evaluation provides ongoing feedback throughout the implementation of the program and builds capacity for Oakland Promise to conduct ongoing formative evaluation internally.

Jointly launched in 2015 by the City of Oakland’s Mayor’s Office and the Oakland Unified School District, the Brilliant Baby program is an innovative, two-generation intervention that gives $500 college savings accounts (CSAs) to economically vulnerable children and provides their parents with financial coaching. The program builds upon a growing literature documenting the effectiveness of CSAs to improve the likelihood that children from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds will attend a post-secondary institution later in life.

Brilliant Baby is the first component of Oakland Promise’s broader “cradle to career” approach to providing Oakland’s children with the skills, resources, and aspirations to graduate from high school, complete college, and be successful in a career of their choice. The City of Oakland and its partners are investing in rigorous program evaluation to improve the program, build the evidence base for early CSA interventions, and serve as a national model for replication. NORC and program staff have engaged in a collaborative design process that resulted in a detailed logic model for Brilliant Baby, a rigorous evaluation design, strong stakeholder buy-in for the evaluation, and robust program data infrastructure both for impact evaluation and ongoing program monitoring and improvement.

NORC is evaluating program fidelity and whether Brilliant Baby improves parent attitudes and behaviors as well as key child development outcomes early in life. This evaluation utilizes a randomized controlled trial design (RCT) to evaluate the impacts of CSAs and financial coaching, coupled with monetary incentives, on the economic well-being of families and the early development of children using a variety of measures. By comparing families who were randomly assigned into three categories—to either a control group, a group that only received CSAs, or a group that received both CSAs and financial coaching—the evaluation will be able to causally assess the impact of different aspects of the program on key quantifiable metrics.

NORC is also helping Oakland Promise to evaluate the other components of the “cradle to career” program, including its Kindergarten to College, Future Centers, and College Scholarships & College Completion programs.

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