Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities


Founded in 2012, the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) is a collaborative research center where social service practitioners and a network of academic researchers work together to design, implement, and evaluate domestic anti-poverty programs. The goal of the center is to reduce poverty by identifying the most effective anti-poverty programs.

In the past 50 years, over $22 trillion has been spent on the War on Poverty, with only mixed results—there are still more than 43 million people, or 14.8% of the United States population, currently living in poverty. LEO aims to find better ways to get these resources to those who need them the most.

Members of the University of Notre Dame faculty conduct LEO’s research alongside scholars from across the country with expertise in assessing the impact of anti-poverty programs. Together, these scholars fill a major research gap by rigorously evaluating the efficacy of on-the-ground programs. Through these evaluations, LEO helps families living in poverty move toward a life of opportunity.

Findings from evaluations provide practical insights for both on-the-ground programming and key policy and funding decisions. LEO actively disseminates evaluation findings to service providers, policymakers, funders, and other partners through peer reviewed academic publications, policy briefs, presentations, press releases, social media, the LEO website, and other channels.

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