Solving, Not Just Serving the Problem

The Fedcap Group is interested in changing the world. To that end we engage in applied research and analysis to better understand and respond to society’s most pressing needs. This requires looking beyond the obvious to understand the root cause of issues we are trying to solve. We work to develop insight-driven solutions and build informed strategies that serve to raise the bar on overall system performance.

Ask the Right Question

We believe it is our responsibility to thoroughly understand the problem we are trying to solve. If the problem we are seeking to solve seems unsolvable we ask ourselves what else could be the core of the problem? What don’t we know? Where does the service system break down? What don’t we understand?

Let’s say you are tasked to design a racing car to win at the 24-hour Le Mans race, what would you aim for? The obvious reaction would be: “I want to build the fastest car possible”. We are taught that the best way to beat another car is to have the fastest one. Ironically enough, Audi’s chief engineer took a different approach when developing their new car for the 24-hour Le Mans race. “How can we win Le Mans if our car is not the fastest?” — he challenged the team. By reframing the problem, the design team came-up with a simple yet powerful solution: a fuel-efficient car. Fewer pit stops not only offset not being the fastest car but also helped Audi win four years in a row.

Define and Test Precise Interventions

We have committed time, intellect and resources to designing, testing and refining solutions. We are building evidence that demonstrates that a precise set of interventions, sequenced in the right way and delivered with the right intensity can change outcomes. And it is not our goal to hold onto these solutions but to share them, to institutionalize them within systems of care.

Examples of Tested Solutions

We know that a large percentage of youth who “age out” of foster care have poor economic well-being outcomes including joblessness, homelessness, and long-term poverty).  We learned that a large % of youth in care wanted to go to college but a very low % actual went to college and graduated (in some reports as low as 3%).  According to a 2019 report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (and this has been generally consistent for the past decade) high school graduates earn 48% of college graduate average wages.  In other words, a high school graduate earns a median wage of $27,708 as compared to a college graduate who makes $53,091 a year.  We decided that one way to address the long-term economic outcomes for youth transitioning from foster care was to change their college entrance and graduation rates.  A very precise intervention for a serious and specific problem.  We began by asking the basic question, how do any of us become inspired to go to college and who supports us in our quest?  The answer is in most cases our parents.  And so we wondered, could a focus on helping foster parents create a college going culture in their homes impact college entrance and graduation rates of youth in their care?  We began by asking 500+ foster parents what they thought their role was in helping youth in their care go to college.  The results were informative.  For the most part foster parents did not see this as their role.  And our research taught us that the mandatory training provided to foster parents did not focus on helping foster parents learn the skills or build the competencies required to help a young person successfully enter college and graduate.    With generous funding from the Conrad Hilton, Pinkerton and Stuart Foundations, we created PrepNOW!™ a web-based professional development course devoted to helping foster parents learn how to inspire and motivate youth in their care to go to college.  It helps foster parents cultivate an environment of learning in their homes.   It teaches the specific skills required to navigate the college application process, complete the personal essay, completing financial aid forms, etc.  The results based on an evaluation from the American Institute for Research demonstrate that when foster parents become invested in the academic success of youth in their care, when they are engaged in helping youth enter college, when they stay connected to youth during that all important freshman year, college entrance and graduation outcomes improve significantly. Youth go to college at the same rates as their peers in the general public and their rates of persistence and college graduation are near 80%.

We believe that changing college attendance and graduation rates for youth in care is one solution to the issue of poor economic outcomes for youth transitioning from foster care. 

In another example, Workforce Development leadership of The Fedcap Group conducted focus groups comprised of individuals with criminal justice backgrounds, their families and representatives from government and learned that the single most important factor to support successful integration is having a bridge between in jail-settings to serve as a “bridge” to the larger community with access to a familiar support person upon re-entry. As a result, we designed a program model to reduce the likelihood of recidivism and smoothen the transition from jail to the community. To date, 64% of individuals involved in this program released from Rikers Island into the community voluntarily engaged in services with us and remained free of the criminal justice system after two years and nearly 40% achieved full-time employment.