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LIFT: Implementation Findings from the Evaluation of Employment Coaching

Karen Gardiner (Abt Global), Kristen Joyce and Sheena McConnell (Mathematica)


January 26, 2022

This report summarizes the design and implementation of LIFT, a coaching intervention operating in four cities to help participants identify and attain self-sufficiency goals. Over two years, volunteer coaches who are unpaid master of social work student interns work with participants on short- and long-term goals for finances, education, and/or employment.

The study found that LIFT implemented its intervention as designed. Key findings from the implementation study are:

  • All participants received at least one coaching session
  • Most coaching sessions followed a standard format focused on goals and action steps, but coaches adjusted if participants had immediate needs
  • The intern approach was cost-effective but had implications for coaching continuity
  • Coaches generally provided collaborative and nondirective coaching and developed trusting relationships with participants
  • On average, participants had 6.5 coaching sessions over the first nine months; by month nine, more than half of participants remained in contact with LIFT.
  • To encourage ongoing participation, LIFT offered financial incentives; about 60 percent of participants received at least one incentive in the first nine months after enrollment.

LIFT is one of four coaching interventions included in the Evaluation of Employment Coaching for TANF and Related Populations. Mathematica led the study, with Abt Global and MDRC, for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the Administration for Children and Families.