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New University of Virginia-Nudge4 Solutions Initiative Aims to Improve Educational and Employment Outcomes in Virginia, Tennessee, and Indiana

1210 Days ago

Charlottesville, Va., March 12, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The University of Virginia Nudge4 Solutions Lab is partnering with state agencies in Virginia, Tennessee, and Indiana to develop scalable strategies to improve educational and economic opportunities for state residents.

Through the initiative, Nudge4 Solutions and its state partners will build the agencies’ capacity to apply advanced analytic strategies to state data, with the goal of identifying residents most in need of support and to connect these individuals to tailored educational and workforce resources and pathways. The results of these analyses will lead to the design of pilot interventions that will connect students and adults to tailored education and employment opportunities and support residents -- youth and adult -- to access relevant state policies and programs, such as state financial aid programs or workforce training opportunities.

“The private sector uses data and behavioral science techniques to shape what we buy, what we watch, and who we interact with. Through these state partnerships, we’ll put those same strategies to work for the public good, supporting people in Virginia, Tennessee and Indiana to follow through on their educational and career goals and to connect to beneficial state programs and opportunities,” said Dr. Ben Castleman, UVA professor and director of the Nudge4 Solutions Lab.

The multi-year initiative is funded by the Lumina Foundation and Overdeck Family Foundation. The state partners are the Virginia Community College System, the Tennessee Board of Regents, and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. 

“The availability of data today provides a unique opportunity to strengthen educational outcomes,” said Anu Malipatil, VP Education, Overdeck Family Foundation. “We’re proud to support Nudge4 Solutions Lab in their efforts to apply data analytics and behavioral science to impactful and cost-effective interventions that help students past and present reach their potential.”

“This initiative is an important step to help states pull together data from different state agencies in a cohesive way,” said Courtney Brown, Lumina Foundation’s vice president of Strategic Impact. “Lumina is excited to support Nudge4 Solutions efforts to build the capacity of states to use data science and analytics to improve educational outcomes among today’s students.”

The Nudge4 Solutions Lab-state partnerships will both be customized to each state’s policy priorities and unique context, and will pursue analyses and projects of common interest across the participating states. Nudge4 Solutions and state partners will jointly hire and manage data and behavioral scientists through the initiative, who will participate in ongoing workshops to share analyses, best practices for working with state administrative data, and pilot strategies to connect residents to well-aligned education and job pathways.

Common areas of focus for the initiative include increasing credentials for unemployed and underemployed individuals; enhancing employee use of employer-funded tuition reimbursement; and increasing degree attainment for military veterans.

“A central mission of the UVA Data Science Institute is to solve real-world problems and make a positive impact on society,” said Institute Director Phil Bourne. “By creating partnerships with government agencies, we are able to bring the incredible insights offered by data science to the community and ensure we build a diverse and inclusive digital future.”


The partnership with Virginia will support several of the Commonwealth’s goals including:

  •  Supporting 60.5% of working adults earn a college degree by 2030
  • Elevate Virginia, a public-private partnership to create a network of high-quality, agile, and responsive workforce development programs
  • Credits2Careers.org, an interactive, web-based tool which allows veterans to view how their military experience translates into college credits


The partnership with Tennessee will advance the state’s strategic priorities including:

  • “Drive to 55”, a state-wide initiative with the goal of increasing the share of the Tennessee workforce with a college credential to 55% by the year 2025;
  •  “TN Promise”, a new scholarship program which offers new high school graduates up to five semesters of free community college;
  • “TN Reconnect”, a new initiative that offers tuition-free  community and technical college to adults to complete unfinished degrees or pursue degrees they have never earned.


The partnership with Indiana will advance several state priorities:

  •  “Next Level Jobs”, an initiative to create a better-skilled workforce ready to meet the changing needs of Indiana’s economy
  • The Workforce Ready Grant, a financial aid program for students pursuing professional certificates in high-demand and high-paying career fields
  • 21st Century Scholars Grant, a scholarship program for low-income students which includes participation in a college preparation program while in high school
  • “You Can Go Back.”, a campaign focused specifically on Hoosiers who left college without completing a degree

“Our ultimate goal is to boost the work already happening in these states in a way that enhances states’ capacity to independently leverage data and behavioral science strategies to achieve their policy goals,” Castleman said.


About Nudge4 Solutions Lab

The Nudge4 Solutions Lab at the University of Virginia partners with public agencies and organizations to design and test scalable strategies to drive educational and economic opportunity for all Americans.

About Lumina Foundation

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. The foundation envisions a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. Lumina’s goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.

About Overdeck Foundation

Overdeck Family Foundation is a family foundation that aims to measurably improve outcomes at scale for all children in the U.S. by strengthening learning in and out of the classroom. The Foundation’s goal is to provide all children the opportunity to unlock their potential.

Audrey Breen
University of Virginia

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