Notre Dame receives $10 million to fund new faculty positions for Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities

Author: Sue Ryan

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The University of Notre Dame’s Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO), a research center in the Department of Economics that works to reduce domestic poverty and improve lives through evidence-based programs and policies, has received $10 million to fund two new faculty positions and grow the center’s Social Innovation Fund.

“We are humbled by this generous support and honored to continue to fight poverty in this uniquely Notre Dame endeavor,” said William Evans, LEO co-founder, economics department chair and Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Economics. “Ultimately, this generosity will allow us to identify more programs that lift families out of poverty and will significantly broaden the impact of LEO’s work.”

“The Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities is rapidly gaining prominence for conducting research that helps policymakers and others better understand and address the causes of poverty in our nation,” said Thomas G. Burish, Charles and Jill Fischer Provost at Notre Dame. “We are exceedingly grateful for the continued support of the lab and its mission of working to be a force for good in the world.”  

Evans anticipates launching the search for the two new faculty positions this spring. “Over the past five years, LEO has transformed from a simple idea into a leading poverty-reduction impact lab. We now work to create evidence-based programs and policies in more than two dozen communities from Anchorage to Austin. This funding will propel our efforts forward by bringing world-class scholars to campus to help fulfill our mission and broaden our impact,” he said.

LEO has recently created its Social Innovation Fund, which will provide seed capital to support pilot projects and fund the scaling-up of programs that have shown early evidence of promising interventions. The Social Innovation Fund will also invest in evaluations of scaled-up versions of anti-poverty programs that have demonstrated impact in order to test them more rigorously while evaluating their impact in different environments and with different populations.

Evans and James Sullivan, Rev. Thomas J. McDonagh, C.S.C., Associate Professor of Economics, founded LEO five years ago to improve lives and reduce poverty in the United States. LEO focuses its impact evaluations on innovative and scalable initiatives, and utilizes evaluation results to inform programming and influence public policy in the areas of criminal justice, self-sufficiency, education, health, and housing and homelessness.

Originally published by Sue Lister at on May 10, 2018.