Using Evidence to Improve Outcomes and Inspire Behavior Change

The generation of evidence is just one part of creating a more equitable world. Ensuring that evidence is used and properly applied is the other part. For government leaders, program managers, educators, and others, evidence can be a useful tool in the decisionmaking process. But using evidence to support policymaking, program design, and systems transformation can be challenging. Lack of time and access to available research, broader calls for knowledge translation, and inadequate training all can serve as barriers to using available evidence. Improving how evidence is used is essential to improving outcomes across health and human services programs.

Through our training and technical assistance (TTA) and participant engagement initiatives, AIR collaborates with practitioners, policymakers, program administrators, and others to incorporate data, knowledge, and evidence in efforts to address equity. We are committed to working with our partners in the field to help them use evidence to foster collaboration, build systems capacity, and facilitate equitable access to resources and opportunities.

Here are a few examples of how AIR uses evidence to improve outcomes and inspire behavior change.

Julie Kochanek

You need a strong evidence base to ensure that systems and supports work for everyone. That’s why staff across AIR prioritize helping our clients and partners understand how to use evidence as they make decisions about some of the nation’s most urgent social challenges. Our teams provide training, coaching, and implementation support to partner with federal, state, and local leaders in generating evidence-informed solutions.

– Julie Kochanek, Senior Vice President, Human Services Division

Fostering Collaboration

Young teachers working together
  • Through initiatives such as the Evidence Support Center (ESC), AIR is helping educators navigate the path from evidence to practice. For example, the ESC provides personalized, actionable, and context-specific evidence on strategies that assist in decision making for educators at the state and local levels. The dynamic, user-friendly ESC Library examines hundreds of rigorously studied educational strategies—many of which are unique to the library—and provides an interface that allows users to match their needs and context to outcomes they want to improve.
  • AIR works with SEAs to build their capacity to improve instructional quality and close achievement gaps through the Region 1 and Region 9 National Comprehensive Centers.
  • To help support the adult learner community, we lead the Adult Education Research and Technical Assistance Center, which provides TTA to states and local programs to promote quality instruction and support services through better professional development, evaluation, more accountability, and an increased use of technology in instruction.

Building Systems Capacity

Police officer chatting with kids
  • Through the Children Exposed to Violence Training and Technical Assistance Center, AIR staff develop and implement interventions such as targeted coaching and peer-to-peer learning that address strategies—at the individual, relational/family, community, and societal level—to help families and communities more effectively respond to children exposed to violence.
  • The National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments offers information and TTA to states, districts, schools, higher education institutions, and communities that is focused on improving school climate and conditions for learning so that all students can realize academic success.
  • The Violence Prevention Technical Assistance Center focuses on training and TA that support the implementation of the Prevention Plan of Action, the Department of Defense’s strategic approach to preventing sexual assault in the military.

Facilitating Equal Access to Resources and Opportunities

Young man smiling in therapy group
Caitlin Dawkins, a principal technical assistance consultant at AIR, helped to develop the concept of Second Chance Month, with colleagues at Prison Fellowship. This work eventually led to the signing of a Presidential Proclamation in 2018, making it a national initiative. 
  • The National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) facilitates reentry information exchange, including news, funding opportunities, and related events for people returning to communities and their families. The NRRC spearheads Second Chance Month, which recognizes the importance of helping individuals, communities, and agencies across the country appreciate their role in supporting the safe and successful reentry of millions of people returning from incarceration each year. Second Chance Month aims to inform and highlight opportunities for state, local, and tribal governments as well as community-based service providers to build meaningful second chances for returning community members.

  • Our leadership of the Corrections and Community Engagement Technical Assistance Center focuses on reducing recidivism through evidence-based and capacity-building training and technical assistance.
  • The Center for Coordinated Assistance to States focuses on helping communities improve youth-serving systems.

Looking Forward

To learn more about AIR’s commitment to encouraging evidence use, please contact us.

Across all projects, AIR’s training and technical assistance work is built on a foundation of diversity, equity, and inclusion, helping others thrive and lifting the voices of those with lived experience. For example, the Center for Addiction Research and Effective Solutions (AIR CARES) conducts research and promotes evidence-based solutions to address substance use disorder and mitigate its impact on affected individuals, families, and communities. This includes encouraging the use of evidence to address the needs of those affected by addiction.

Featured Experts

Image of Elisabeth Davis
Principal Researcher
Image of Ellen Cushing
Principal TA Consultant
Caitlin Dawkins headshot
Principal TA Consultant