case western reserve university



Public Affairs Discussion Group

"Testing Faith: What do we know about faith-based social services?"

April 15, 2005
Adelbert Hall, Toepfer Room

12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Rob Fischer Ph.D.

Rob Fischer Ph.D.

Rob Fischer Ph.D., Senior Research Associate at the Center for Urban Poverty in the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve

Dear Colleagues:

President Bush’s “Faith-Based Initiative” has been subject of a lot of political controversy.  But amid all the talk about what it might do to the Constitution or for people in desperate straits, there is very little information about a fundamental question: do “faith-based” programs work?

Do they work?  How could we even tell?  Those are questions that Rob Fischer has been considering closely.  Rob (Ph.D., Vanderbilt) manages and conducts evaluation studies at the Center on Urban Poverty and Social Change of Case’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences (MSASS).  He is one of the nation’s experts on those awkward questions.  They are awkward because if it’s hard to tell if “faith-based” programs work, it may be similarly hard to tell if OTHER programs work. Raising the question of why governments spend money on either kind!

This week’s Friday Lunch meets in the Toepfer Room of Adelbert Hall from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.   PLEASE NOTE: As Dr. Hundert has a meeting in that room until Noon, it’s probably not a great idea to arrive real early, and if you do, please be patient.  As usual, cookies and beverages will be provided.  Please join us for what should be a good discussion of tough questions.

Best regards,
Joe White

About Our Guest

Robert Fischer serves as Senior Research Associate at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve University. In this capacity, Dr. Fischer coordinates the evaluation of the Cuyahoga County Early Childhood Initiative, a three-year, $40 million effort, that includes home visiting, children’s health, and day care components. From 1994-2001, Dr. Fischer served as Director of Program Evaluation for Families First, a nonprofit family and children's agency in metropolitan Atlanta, conducting evaluations of family interventions dealing with issues such as divorce, teen pregnancy and parenting, homelessness. Fischer also previously served as an Adjunct Professor at the School of Social Work at Georgia State University in Atlanta, teaching a course in program evaluation. Dr. Fischer has presented the findings from his research at national and international conferences in the evaluation and social work research fields and has published these results in various professional journals. He also co-authored a chapter in the Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation on the synthesis of research results.

Dr. Fischer is an active member of the American Evaluation Association and currently serves as the co-chair of the Human Services Evaluation topical interest group. He is a submission reviewer for several professional journals, including Families in Society and Research on Social Work Practice. Fischer has served as a technical consultant on the National Evaluation of Family Support Programs being conducted for the U.S. Congress, and has consulted with City Year, City Cares, and the Atlanta Alliance on Developmental Disabilities. Dr. Fischer received his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in policy development and program evaluation and holds a masters degree from Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education, and a bachelors degree from Duke University, both in public policy studies.

Spring 2005 Semester Schedule

April 22: Toepfer Room: Robert Walters Ph.D., “Responding to Humanitarian Emergencies – What a Geologist Learned at the State Department.”

Parking: For those people who seek to make special arrangements about parking, the contact person now will be Fay Alexander.  Her phone number is 368-4440, and her e-mail is

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