Some legislators and foundations prefer to fund Evidence-Based interventions (EBI’s), meaning programs that have extensive university research behind them.
However grassroots programs that are good at engaging hard-to-reach groups often don’t become EBIs, partly because research funding favors replicable models that deliver services in a consistent format. In contrast, programs that serve distinctive clients and cultures are often customized models that respond flexibly to their clients’ needs.
For example, groups for parents who have been in child protection vary because clients come from many backgrounds, enter with a range of issues, and stay for different lengths of time.
Funders should include an evaluation component in every grant they make. This would be a reasonable alternative to research, and help justify funding the best grassroots programs on a par with EBIs.