Measuring success: the Padua Project

North Texas Catholic

September 6, 2017

“Theresa,” a Padua client, is pictured with CCFW case manager Kimberly Lawrence. Theresa grew up in poverty and, as a homeless mother of two, was determined to break that cycle. Through participation in the Padua Pilot, Theresa is now a college graduate and is working towards opening her own brokerage firm. (Photo courtesy/Catholic Charities Fort Worth)

FORT WORTH  —  Five decades. Trillions spent. 100-plus anti-poverty programs. And we’re no better off. Why?”

When Heather Reynolds, president and CEO of Catholic Charities Fort Worth (CCFW), asked this question, she was referring to the expansion of social welfare legislation that began in 1964. In spite of more than $15 trillion spent on federal programs, more than 48 million people are currently living below the poverty line in the United States.

Reynolds is on a quest to understand and effectively combat a system in which “people are trapped in a cycle of dependency and stigma.” It is because of this quest that she and the entire CCFW team are committed to the Padua Pilot, which launched in May 2015.

Padua is a model built to measure outcomes, said Reynolds. By partnering with researchers from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, CCFW is able to analyze client data and see how intensive case management and connections to community support are changing the lives of the 192 clients currently enrolled.

“Lydia,” a single mother of four children and a victim of domestic violence, was living in a shelter when she first joined Padua. With the goal of establishing stability in Lydia’s life and thus helping to prevent future crises, Lydia’s case manager worked with her to begin counseling, find housing, obtain a GED, seek a better paying job, and procure reliable transportation. Within 11 months, Lydia had reached these goals and is now enrolled in community college.

Progress in 12 asset areas was measured in a group of 105 clients who, like Lydia, were enrolled in the first year of Padua; significant improvements were measured in the asset areas of clients’ physical, financial, health, and support systems. Reynolds says she expects more exciting news, and many more success stories, as CCFW case workers continue to work intensively with each client.

“We really want to know: What are we doing wrong? What could we do better? What should we do more of? What really works to move people out of poverty for good?” said Reynolds. 

“These answers, good or bad, give us the ability not only to improve our services, but to scale and replicate evidence-based solutions. And that is the only type of service we should be providing — something that really works.”

For more information, visit or call 817-534-0814.

FORT WORTH  —  Five decades. Trillions spent. 100-plus anti-poverty programs. And we’re no better off. Why?”

Published (until 9/6/2030)