Abstract: Single Stop: Building Pathways out of Poverty through an Economic Empowerment Model (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

Single Stop: Building Pathways out of Poverty through an Economic Empowerment Model

Saturday, January 18, 2020
Independence BR F, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Sarah Crawford, BA, National Director of Partnerships and Programs, Single Stop, Raleigh, NC
Susanne Harnett, PhD, Managing Senior Associate, Research and Evaluation, Metis Associates, New York, NY
Jing Zhu, PhD, Senior Associate for Design and Analysis, Metis Associates, New York, NY
Michael Scuello, BA, Senior Associate for Design and Analysis, Metis Associates, New York, NY
Marie Sabatino, MSW, Adjunct Faculty and Director of Strategy, Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and Fedcap, New York, NY
Oral Paper Submission


This study examined the impacts of the Single Stop program on academic performance, persistence, retention and graduation of students enrolled in the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP). Single Stop USA is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing poverty and helping low-income individuals achieve economic mobility. Through a unique “one-stop shop,” Single Stop provides access to a safety net of benefits and services delivered by a wide range of government agencies and nonprofit organizations—connecting underserved communities to the resources and supports needed to attain higher education, obtain good jobs, and achieve financial stability. Single Stop is established at over 100 sites at community-based organizations and colleges across the country and services are delivered from staff with diverse backgrounds. Single Stop opened at CCP in Fall 2013 and provides students with access to service coordination and benefits screening and application assistance, as well as tax preparation services, financial counseling, legal assistance, and immigration consultations.


A rigorous quasi-experimental impact study was conducted examining impacts of the Single Stop program from Fall 2014 through Fall 2017 at CCP. 1,152 students were selected as the treatment group based on having utilized at least one of five major Single Stop services. Approximately 75% identified as Black or Hispanic, 98.9% received financial aid, and the average household income of students was less than $13,000 annually. The study investigates program impact estimates on CCP college students. Propensity score matching was carried out to generate a comparison group (i.e., the counterfactual) for analyzing pertinent program impacts in all phases of evaluation. Non-participants included students who were not identified as receiving services by Single Stop between summer 2014 and spring 2015.


The study found that at every phase from Fall 2014 through Fall 2017, students who utilized Single Stop at CCP were more successful in key academic areas. Students who utilized Single Stop persisted or graduated at rates that were as high as 9.6 percentage points more than their matched counterparts. Students utilizing Single Stop also graduated at rates that were between 6 and 6.5 percentage points higher than their matched counterparts, had higher GPAs, and higher rates of degree-bearing credit pass rates.

Conclusions and Implications: 

Findings emphasize that integrating critical resources and supports in a “one-stop shop” setting allows individuals from underserved communities access to seamless services so that they may better concentrate on and succeed in academic endeavors. Single Stop is helping thousands of individuals—the majority of whom are people of color from low-income backgrounds—build pathways out of poverty through an economic empowerment model. By providing direct access to much needed supports and empowering individuals to succeed, Single Stop can serve as a leader in crafting innovative solutions to move racial, educational and economic justice forward. This work has profound implications when it comes to replication of this model across a wider range of community-based settings and serves as important groundwork for researchers to build upon and for policy-makers to invest in.