Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation: Ford Foundation, 1974

Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society (Duke)



Case Study Sector


In 1974, the Ford Foundation, in partnership with six government agencies, created an intermediary institution intended to enhance social innovation in the U.S. by designing experiments, and, more importantly, measuring and documenting meticulously the results achieved by new efforts to improve the lot of the American underclass. The Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) would use foundation as well as government dollars to test new social assistance programs.
The range of projects MDRC has pioneered or studied in its thirty-year history is too great for all to be considered here. It continues to apply rigorous evaluation techniques to innovative programs at the local, state, and federal level. Some half million people have participated directly in MDRC research over the years. The Ford Foundation continues to support its creation, and many other foundations have joined in. Today, MDRC has an annual budget of approximately $32 million, about 39 percent of which comes from foundations and corporations.



  • Field Building
  • Evaluation
  • Strategy


  • Northern America

Blog Posts


Jan 27

JOIN US Wednesday, January 27th at 4:30 PM, on Zoom, for a VIRTUAL discussion on reinventing local journalism with philanthropic and civic capital. Registration is Required