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Harold Richman Public Policy Symposium

In 2011, CSSP launched a public policy symposium series in recognition of the contributions the organziation's co-founder Harold Richman made to the organization and to the field.

The  series reflects principles that were important to Harold throughout his career. Each symposium/forum is designed to:

  • Make a difference by contributing to policy development that will improve the lives of disadvantaged children and families
  • Discuss with candor and civility important issues on which there are sharp differences of opinion, with the aim of promoting greater consensus
  • Bring high academic standards to the discussion while emphasizing the realities of implementing ideas in communities and with partnerships of non-profit organizations and federal, state and local governments
  • Engage young leaders and scholars in important policy issues, ensuring fresh perspectives and providing opportunities for leadership development
  • Share the research and/or major schools of thought on a particular issue using a paper comissioned on an issue(each paper will also be reviewed and commented upon by several of the leading thinkers within the subject area of the paper)
  • Provide an opportunity for intellectual thought and debate regarding the presented issue
  • Reach consensus when possible, identify those areas where there is continued disagreement and explore the cause of the continued variance in opinion (e.g., lack of research, data, knowledge, etc.)
  • Make recommendations about policies, practices and additional research/debate that we believe will lead to good results for disadvantaged children and families



The second symposium, presented in conjunction with The Friends of Evidence of the Center for the Study of Social Policy, continues this theme by exploring “The Future of Evidence” supported by a background paper entitled An Evidence Framework to Improve Results.  Participants explored why both the theory and practice of determining “what works” must undergo a major shift. This shift is needed so that reform efforts in health, education, social services and community change can be held more accountable and become more effective. The deliberations examined how the growing complexity of social problems and their solutions require new approaches to generating, analyzing and applying evidence in order to improve critical societal outcomes and to assure the wise allocation of scarce resources. Examples from the field of innovative and comprehensive evidence gathering and a disciplined focus on results and learning were highlighted by representatives of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, LIFT and the North Side Achievement Zone.  The symposium was generously supported by The Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Ford Foundation.


The topic for the first symposium was “Building a Rich and Useful Evidence Base to Improve Outcomes for Children, Families and Communities.” It included a vigorous examination of Expanding the Evidence Universe: Doing Better by Knowing More, a paper co-authored by Lisbeth Schorr and Frank Farrow. The symposium featured a wide range of esteemed panelists from academia, philanthropy, the federal government and community change initiatives. The event was made possible thanks to support from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and Pastora Cafferty.

Harold Richman Public Policy Symposium

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Throughout his life, Harold provided public policy leadership for the sake of vulnerable children. Harold Richman left a legacy of good works and lasting contributions to the field of children’s and family services. Harold's distinguished career reflected his belief that actions to improve the lives of children and families require a rigorous understanding of research and a commitment to policy innovation. He began his life’s work as a White House Fellow from 1965 to 1967. He was also the Hermon Dunlap Smith Professor at the University of Chicago and from 1969 to 1978, Dean of its School of Social Service Administration.

Harold was an organization builder as well as teacher and mentor to hundreds of leaders in his field. He co-founded the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) with his friend and colleague, Tom Joe, in 1979. He founded the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago in 1985. Harold co-chaired the Aspen Institute Roundtable on Comprehensive Community Initiatives, chaired the board of the Children's Institute at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and served on the boards of the Brookdale Institute in Jerusalem, the John Gardner Center for Youth and Community at Stanford University and the Michael Reese Health Trust in Chicago. He chaired CSSP’s board from 2000 until his death in 2009.


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