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About Abt Associates Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 40 countries. http://www.abtassociates.com

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News Article | May 11, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Karim Belhadjali, who has more than 20 years’ experience in ecosystem restoration, storm and flood risk reduction, has joined Abt Associates as a Principal Associate of Environment and Natural Resources. Before joining Abt, Belhadjali worked for 15 years in Louisiana where he held multiple positions at the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA). At CPRA, he served as program manager for Louisiana’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan and led a multidisciplinary team of more than 70 scientists, geologists, economists and engineers on the state-of-the-art approach to climate change adaptation. Belhadjali also managed the award-winning 2012 Coastal Master Plan, based on a two-year analysis involving some of the state’s best scientists, as well as national and international specialists. Belhadjali, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tuvalu, worked on fisheries resource assessment, inshore fisheries development, coastal resource conservation, ciguatera monitoring and provided advice for the sustainable management of fisheries resources. He worked with island communities and other non-government organizations on guidelines for the development of community fisheries projects with particular emphasis on the sustainable use of coastal marine resources. Belhadjali holds a Master of Science in Fisheries from Louisiana State University and a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from Long Island University. About Abt Associates Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 60 countries. http://www.abtassociates.com


News Article | March 1, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Both incentives and restrictions can improve nutrition among low-income Americans, while increasing access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can reduce food insecurity. Findings are presented in three new articles by Abt Associates published in a special issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Researchers examined data from two large random assignment studies, the Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP) and the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children Demonstration (SEBTC). HIP is the largest random assignment study to incentivize SNAP recipients to buy fruits and vegetables by offering a rebate. In addition, SEBTC is the largest random assignment study of SNAP nutrition and food security. During the summers of 2011 through 2013, SEBTC randomly assigned and surveyed approximately 50,000 households. Randomly selected households that were offered the program received $60 or $30 of additional food assistance, per school-aged child, per month, during the summer. In “Rebates to Incentivize Healthy Nutrition Choices in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” researchers present HIP findings based on 7,500 SNAP households in Hampden County, Mass., that were randomly assigned to receive a 30 percent rebate when they purchased targeted fruits and vegetables at participating retailers. The rebate incentivized participants to buy more targeted fruits and vegetables and consume almost a quarter-cup more of these healthy items per day. Spending on targeted fruits and vegetables was also higher among households receiving the incentives. “Small steps matter,” said Dr. Lauren Olsho, Abt principal associate and lead author of the rebate article. “This study shows that eating your vegetables is more likely when there is an incentive. Price incentives are promising strategies to help improve diet quality.” In “Improving Nutrition by Increasing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Benefits,” Abt Senior Fellow Jacob A. Klerman and co-author Ann Collins offer evidence from the SEBTC showing that more food assistance leads to a better diet and other positive outcomes. Researchers examined the impact of additional food assistance (an average of about $100 per month) that eligible families received during the summer. The additional benefit improved household food security, increased food expenditures on higher quality foods, and improved several child nutrition outcomes, including fruit, vegetable and dairy intake. In “Improving Nutrition by Limiting Choice in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” Klerman and colleagues argue that the SEBTC and HIP studies provide sound evidence that requirements on what to purchase with SNAP funds can and do work. Under SEBTC, both limited choice and free choice models were tested. Some sites offered the summer benefit using a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)-like model, restricting food items that can be purchased. Other sites offered the benefit using the SNAP model, without substantially restricting food choice. Compared to SNAP-model households, WIC-model households consumed more fruits and vegetables. These WIC-model households also consumed less sugar and less sugar-sweetened beverages. Said Klerman, “Collectively, these studies and articles show that policy changes can increase fruit and vegetable consumption. Giving families more food assistance will increase intake of healthy foods. But if you give families more food assistance and require them to spend it on fruits and vegetables, they’ll eat a whole lot of ‘good foods’ and slightly less 'bad foods’.” About Abt Associates Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 40 countries. http://www.abtassociates.com


News Article | October 28, 2016
Site: www.prweb.com

How do we best help families experiencing homelessness, and how do we keep them from becoming homeless again? Three-year findings from a major study released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Abt Associates show that long-term housing subsidies, particularly housing vouchers, are the best strategy. Providing priority access to long-term housing subsidies to homeless families helps keep families from becoming homeless again and has a variety of positive benefits – from keeping families out of shelters and off the street, to preventing food insecurity and intimate partner violence and reducing school moves for children in homeless families. From September 2010 through January 2012, 2,282 families with 5,397 children enrolled in the Family Options Study across 12 communities after spending at least seven days in emergency shelter. Researchers from Abt Associates and Vanderbilt University followed the families for 37 months, gathering evidence about which types of housing and services interventions worked best for homeless families. Participating communities were Alameda County, Calif.; Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston; Bridgeport and New Haven , Conn.; Denver; Honolulu; Kansas City, Mo.; Louisville, Ky.; Minneapolis; Phoenix and Salt Lake City. The random-assignment study compared the effect of offering families long-term housing subsidies with the effect of offering transitional housing, which places people in agency-controlled buildings or apartments with intensive services, and with the effect of offering rapid re-housing, which provides short-term subsidies to help families lease market-rate housing. Researchers looked at these efforts compared to one another and to usual care, when families are not given priority access to any particular type of assistance. “The Family Options Study shows a striking pattern of findings after three years, similar to the findings detected in a shorter, 20-month period,” said Michelle Wood, one of the study’s authors and a Principal Associate at Abt Associates. “Providing access to long-term subsidies keeps families off the street and out of shelters. The evidence underscores that homelessness is a challenge of housing affordability that it can be remedied with long-term housing subsidies.” The three–year results show that long-term housing subsidies had substantial positive impacts on family well-being, reducing by one-half the proportion of families experiencing recent homelessness. Compared to usual care, access to long-term housing subsidies reduced the proportion of families who stay in emergency shelter again by more than half in the first 20 months and by more than three-quarters in the final year studied. Long-term housing subsidies also had positive impacts on adult and child-well being. For example, compared to families assigned to usual care, families given priority access to long-term subsidies experienced less food insecurity and less intimate partner violence. Children in families given priority access to long-term subsidies moved among schools less frequently and families had fewer moves. Employment of adults in the long-term subsidy group was somewhat lower than for the usual care group over much of the follow-up period. The study found that transitional housing had no effect on the family challenges that may contribute to homelessness and that transitional housing is intended to address through intensive services directly linked to a short-term stay in an agency-controlled project. Over three years of study, priority access to project-based transitional housing had no effect on adult well-being or self-sufficiency and only reduced stays in emergency shelter during a period when some families were still in transitional housing programs. The study found that priority access to rapid re-housing did not improve on usual care in reducing returns to homelessness, but rapid rehousing cost less both per month and over the three-year follow-up period. When the costs of all programs used are considered, costs were 9 percent lower for families with priority access to rapid re-housing than for usual care families. In the three years studied, the average total cost of all the programs used by families assigned to usual care averaged $41,000 per family. The corresponding cost for families given priority access to long-term permanent subsidies was 9 percent higher. The benefits of priority access to a long-term subsidy were achieved at a three-year additional cost of about $4,000. With HUD support, Abt is continuing to track this sample of deeply poor families with histories of homelessness. For a full copy of the report, visit: https://www.huduser.gov/portal/family_options_study.html. About Abt Associates Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 60 countries. http://www.abtassociates.com


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

The Deepwater Horizon disaster contaminated habitats across the northern Gulf of Mexico, including deep water corals, shallow bays and estuaries, coastal marshes and beaches, and affected wildlife such as birds, dolphins and sea turtles. New research articles from Abt Associates, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other organizations describe and quantify the impacts of the oil spill on these mammals and other species. The studies were published in a special issue of the international scientific journal, Endangered Species Research. The northern Gulf of Mexico is home to five species of sea turtles and many marine mammal species, including dolphins and whales. The compiled research studies presented in the special issue offer the clearest depiction of unprecedented impacts, including death and injuries, to marine life. Sea turtles and marine mammals suffered significant losses due to Deepwater Horizon across the Gulf. The articles in the special issue are based on more than five years’ of research, and findings helped to inform the Natural Resources Damage Assessment for up to $8.8 billion to restore the Gulf. Research data indicate it could take decades for these protected species to recover to their pre-spill numbers. In “Estimating sea turtle exposures to Deepwater Horizon Oil,” Abt authors Bryan Wallace, Matthew Rissing, Dave Cacela and James Holmes, and their co-authors, explain how the team combined direct observations of oiled turtles rescued by boat-based researchers with daily satellite images of the oil footprint to describe how sea turtles were affected. Scientists used these relationships to estimate oil exposure for sea turtles that were sighted during plane-based surveys, but not examined directly. This approach allowed researchers to expand their direct observations from part of the spill area to assess total impacts to sea turtles across the entire spill area. “Researchers have used satellites or direct observations to support conservation and environmental response work before, but not necessarily together to estimate the total impacts of an oil spill on protected species like sea turtles,” said Wallace, lead author of the article. Wallace also served as theme coordinator for the issue. “This research was important because it bridged gaps between various types of data to expand and quantify the full nature and extent of the injuries.” The sheer scale of the spill and its effects on marine mammals required interdisciplinary research to quantify how many dolphins were affected. In the article, “The Deepwater Horizon oil spill marine mammal injury assessment," Abt’s Ryan Takeshita, Ph.D., and colleagues describe the variety of studies used to estimate the damage from the oil spill on marine mammals in the northern Gulf of Mexico, using the bottlenose dolphin injury assessment as an example. Like sea turtles, dolphins are particularly susceptible to negative effects of oil spills because they must surface to breathe, even in places where oil coats the water’s surface. The authors discuss the harmful cumulative effects dolphins experienced as they inhaled, aspirated, ingested and/or absorbed oil over repeated exposures. The article describes how the Deepwater Horizon oil spill increased mortality, reproductive failure and poor health effects that last years beyond the duration of the spill. With the wealth of data from these studies and a more complete understanding of exposure and injury pathways to marine life, researchers were able to overcome the significant challenges of assessing the comprehensive impact of the spill to protected species. The overall findings are reported in the final Deepwater Horizon natural resources damage assessment and restoration plan. Commented Takeshita, “These articles describe advances in how environmental assessments integrate cutting edge scientific research. Our ability to describe and quantify the injuries to sea turtles and marine mammals is a testament to the multidisciplinary teams that responded in the days just after the spill and still continue to collect and analyze data about the oil spill’s impacts.” This latest research builds on Abt’s prior contributions to all aspects of the Deepwater Horizon natural resources damage assessments and restoration plans. About Abt Associates Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 40 countries. http://www.abtassociates.com


News Article | November 22, 2016
Site: www.prweb.com

Abt Associates has earned a 2016 Gold MarCom Award from the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals for its outstanding work communicating the impacts of climate change on human health. Abt’s campaign, “Communicating the Health Impacts of Climate Change,” won in the Research/Study Communications Campaign category. Abt created the campaign through work supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Change Division. Campaign materials included an infographic that covers the health impacts of climate change throughout a lifespan, an interactive U.S. map of health impacts by state, and a series of nine fact sheets detailing the climate health impacts for populations of concern, including pregnant women, children, the disabled, and the environmental justice community. “This award is testament to the multidisciplinary approach Abt takes in addressing the world’s toughest challenges, like climate change,” said Josh Lipton, Vice President, Environment and Natural Resources at Abt. “Our rigorous research experts provided the scientific foundation for the campaign, and a team of cross-divisional health and environmental communicators translated those scientific findings into clear information that people can easily understand.” The MarCom Awards are an annual creative competition recognizing excellence in print, visual, audio, and web materials and programs. More than 6,000 entries are submitted for the awards each year. Read more about the climate change and health communication campaign. About Abt Associates Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 60 countries. http://www.abtassociates.com


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

A new report from Abt Associates includes promising findings about the implementation of a new multi-year initiative to expand preschool access for low-income four-year-old children in Massachusetts. In early 2015, Massachusetts received a federal Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG) to increase access to full-day, full-year preschool to approximately 850 children per year in five communities: Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield. In each community, the school district and participating community-based organizations collaborate to provide a variety of supports and resources to PEG teachers, families, and children, with the goal of providing high-quality programming and experiences that would prepare children to succeed in elementary school and beyond. Abt researchers collected an extensive amount of data to assess the program’s first year of implementation across the 48 PEG classrooms. Assessments included standardized observations of classroom quality and the early academic skills of participating PEG children before they entered kindergarten. “This study provides early encouraging findings on the progress that these preschool programs have made in a short amount of time, along with useful information about opportunities for growth and improvements,” said Abt Project Director Amy Checkoway. “While there remains room for growth and consistency as the program continues into its second year of implementation, both children and parents are clearly benefitting from the program,” said Principal Investigator Dr. Barbara Goodson. Overall, the results point to significant progress on investments in early education programs. Said Massachusetts Early Education and Care Commissioner Tom Weber, “These promising results after just one year are a testament to the commitment and collaborative efforts of all the licensed early education programs and school districts who are participating in this important initiative.” About Abt Associates Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 60 countries. http://www.abtassociates.com

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