2018 State Standard of Excellence

12. Use of Evidence in Grant Programs

Did the state or any of its agencies: (1) invest at least 50% of program funds in evidence-based solutions or (2) use evidence of effectiveness when allocating funds to eligible grantees (including local governments) from its five largest competitive and noncompetitive grant programs?

Why is this important?
Requiring a portion of grant funds to be spent on evidence-based programs allows state governments to use and scale proven program models to achieve better and more uniform results.

Leading Example

Oregon Outline


Multiple agencies

A 2003 Oregon law states that the Oregon Department of Corrections, the Oregon Youth Authority, the Oregon Youth Development Division, and “the part of the Oregon Health Authority that deals with mental health and addiction issues” shall (1) “spend at least 75 percent of state moneys that the agency receives for programs on evidence-based programs” by 2011, (2) perform cost-benefit analyses, and (3) compile a biennial program inventory with results from funded programs.

Promising Examples


Multiple agencies

Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice requires all residential commitment prevention contractors to implement at least one evidence-based model from the agency’s Sourcebook of Delinquency Interventions. The sourcebook defines three levels of evidence (evidence-based practices, promising practices, or practices with demonstrated effectiveness) and lists all juvenile justice programs according to their level of evidence. The department also introduced a Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol, a monitoring tool to ensure providers implement programs with fidelity.


Single agency

Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services requires all of its programs to be evidence-based. The Promoting Safe and Stable Families program notes on its website that “all Promoting Safe and Stable Families service providers MUST utilize evidence-based practices, strategies, or program models with a medium to high relevance to child welfare effective in addressing the needs of the target population and achieving desired outcomes.”


Multiple agencies

Beginning in 2011, the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) has required programs that receive its grant funding (p. 13) to “allocate a percentage of their OASAS funded prevention efforts to the delivery of evidence-based programs and strategies.” The percentage started at 35% in 2011 (p. 14) and escalated to 50% in 2014 and 70% in 2018. To assist in the implementation of evidence-based programs, OASAS created a Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Strategies (p. 12). Promising programs can be proposed to a state panel for approval and inclusion in the OASAS registry.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services has increased its funding of evidence-based interventions, targeting 75% of its alternative to incarceration funds (pp. 5–6) toward evidence-based interventions in FY2015–2016. This funding target was based on the department’s technical report and cost-benefit analysis to outline the impact, costs, and benefits of specific criminal justice interventions.


Single agency

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services oversees the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund, which provides grants to support local child welfare activities across the state. The trust’s FY2017 grant instructions state that it will fund programs and activities that are based on proven evidence (p. 7) while defining the following five levels of evidence: proven, likely effective, promising, emerging, or not recommended (p. 17).


Multiple agencies

A 2007 Tennessee law requires that 100% of the state’s juvenile justice funding be evidence-based (section 4e) beginning in 2012, with the exception of pilot programs that are building the evidence basis for research or theory-based interventions. As a result, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services’ 2017 Request for Proposal for juvenile justice services noted that “the Department of Children’s Services is prohibited from expending state funds on any juvenile justice program . . . unless the program is evidence-based” (p. 23). The law also established [in 37-5-121(a)] the following four levels of evidence for the juvenile justice programs operated by the Department of Children’s Services: evidence-based, research-based, theory-based, or pilot.

The 2010 Complete College Tennessee Act included provisions for using evidence of effectiveness in the funding system for public colleges and universities in the state. The competitive outcomes-based funding system allocates state funds based on student progress and completion metrics, rather than traditional enrollment-based criteria. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission annually updates the funding formula based on outcome data.