State EITC Rapid Response Fund Evaluation Outcomes and Lessons Learned

The EITC Rapid Response Fund (EITC RRF) is one of three funds administered by GIST and the EITC Funders Network in partnership with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and the Hatcher Group to help improve efforts to protect current and create new state EITCs. 

The EITC RRF was established in 2012 and focuses on quick infusions of support to help an existing effort overcome a communications challenge or opportunity. Awards are made on a rolling basis and range from $15,000-$30,000.

Evaluation Outcomes

In 2016, the fund hired the Center for Evaluation Innovation and Innovation Network to conduct a retrospective evaluation of the Rapid Response Fund (RRF). The evaluation began in Summer 2016 and concluded in February 2017. The evaluation sought to address three key questions:

  • Are the RRF processes and resources structured as effectively as possible?
  • Are there common contextual factors affecting RRF outcomes?
  • What is the range of outcomes resulting from RRF funding (policy wins, changes in capacity, changes in coalition strength, etc.)?

Key evaluation findings are outlined below, based on surveys, interviews and a meeting with representatives of almost all organizations that received RRF awards between 2012 and 2016. A total of 17 out of 19 awardees participated in the data collection (see Table 1 below).

All awardees believe RRF adds unique value, due to its flexibility and the added capacity it often provides that would otherwise be out of reach. This targeted injection of funds often hits the mark from a process perspective, and opens the door to tactical creativity, but it may benefit from some further thinking around the funding timeline and needs of supported groups.

  • Application and reporting:  The RRF application and reporting process is notably simple and awardees appreciate the ease with which they receive and report on the awards. No major adjustments were recommended.
  • Timing and structure: There has been an evolution of tactics and orientation in the EITC campaigns that may benefit from some shifts in the timing and structure of the RRF.
    • Focusing rapid response funds as originally structured on the types of tactics that are more likely to be successful when there is only a short time frame for design and execution—such as paid media or retooling existing messaging—may increase the impact of the funding. In cases where awardees need an infusion of funds for tactics that require more in-depth planning and execution time, or where the tactics take longer to bear fruit (such as coalition building or citizen engagement work), the timing of the funds is less effective. Providing funds earlier in the campaign planning cycle for these kinds of tactics would allow advocates to maximize their use.
    • Earlier notification of the availability of awards would enable awardees to more effectively design and carry out the expanded range of tactics the funds support.
  • Definition of success: EITC policy victories were the primary goal of these campaigns, but many awardees spoke to contributions RRF made to coalitional, organizational, and momentum building successes. These other successes are important milestones for awardees working on longer-term investments in an engaged electorate and a more favorable and progressive tax climate that can support a state EITC. These kinds of milestones feel equally valuable to awardees given the instability of the current political climate and consequent threats to the sustainability of any progress or “wins.”
  • Focus and scope: The focus of RRF has always been to promote state EITCs, and in only limited cases have awardees combined the EITC together with other tax credits to promote or protect a suite of credits simultaneously. Feedback from awardees indicated an interest in broadening the mandate of the RRF to include other low-income tax credits. While shifting the focus off of EITC can be seen as straying from the initial, and very clear, RRF goal of raising awareness of state EITCs, advances on other tax credits can themselves be important momentum-builders towards EITC success in the future.
  • Technical assistance: Assistance from technical assistance providers is an integral part of RRF and awardees deeply value both the big picture view and concrete skills and resources they bring to in-state campaigns. In some instances, awardees do not understand the full range of assistance available to them, or seek additional tailored support, but the bulk of the assistance to awardees is successful as-is.

As a result of reflections from fund partners and the evaluation, the fund is exploring making changes including providing support for year-long efforts, starting the work with awardees sooner in the planning cycle, and providing greater transparency as to when funds might be available.

Click here for information on the State EITC Rapid Response Fund.

Table 1: RRF awardees that received funding in 2012-2016 and participated in the retrospective evaluation

Note: Two RRF awardees were not able to participate (Ilinois and New Mexico).

State Organization Strategy Summary Year Amount of Funding Awarded ($)
Colorado The Colorado Fiscal Institute Protect Suppored efforts to eliminate EITC revenue trigger. 2014 $30,000
Colorado The Colorado Fiscal Institute Create Won a new state EITC.   2013 $18,500
Hawaii Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice  Create Bills for a state refundable EITC were introduced in the state legislature, but did not pass. 2016 $30,000
Kansas Kansas Center for Economic Growth Protect Preserved state EITC.   2013 $15,000
Kansas Kansas Center for Economic Growth Protect Prevented efforts to reduce or eliminate the state EITC.   2015 $30,000
Kansas Kansas Action for Children Protect Preserved the state EITC despite efforts to eliminate or reduce it. 2012 $10,000
Kansas Kansas Center for Economic Growth Protect Prevented efforts to reduce or eliminate the state EITC.   2016 $30,000
Kentucky Kentucky Center for Economic Policy Create Supported efforts to pass a state refundable EITC.  2014 $25,000
Maine Maine Center for Economic Policy Expand Supported efforts to increase state EITC from 5 percent to 10 percent and refundable. Expanded property tax credits and rent relief.  2014 $25,000
Maryland Maryland CASH Expand Supported efforts to expand the state EITC to workers not raising children. 2016 $45,000
Maryland Maryland CASH Expand Established groundwork to change the age and income eligibility of the state EITC. 2015 $30,000
Maryland Maryland CASH Expand Supported efforts to expand the state EITC to workers not raising children. 2016 $45,000
Maryland Maryland CASH Expand Established groundwork to change the age and income eligibility of the state EITC. 2015 $30,000
Michigan Michigan League for Public Policy Protect  Prevented efforts to reduce or eliminate the state EITC.   2015 $30,000
Michigan Michigan League for Public Policy Protect Maintained Michigan’s EITC structure at a reduced rate in the face of efforts to eliminate it.   2012 $35,000
Michigan Michigan League for Public Policy Protect & Expand Supported efforts to preserve and strengthen the state EITC.   2013 $8,500
Missouri The Missouri Budget Project Create Supported efforts to establish state  EITC. Lawmakers in the state House and Senate considered bills to create a state EITC worth 20% of the federal credit during the 2017 session. 2016 $45,000
Missouri The Missouri Budget Project Create Supported efforts to establish state  EITC. 2016 $45,000
Montana Montana Budget and Policy Center Create Supported efforts to make state's current EITC refundable.   2015 $30,000
North Carolina North Carolina Budget and Tax Center Create Supported efforts to reinstate the state EITC.  2014 $15,000
North Carolina  North Carolina Budget and Tax Center Protect & Expand Supported efforts to preserve and strengthen the state EITC.   2013 $15,000
Oklahoma Oklahoma Policy Institute Protect Preserved the state EITC and other working family credits despite efforts to eliminate them.  2012 $10,000
Oregon Oregon Center for Public Policy Protect & Expand Passed a bill to renew the state EITC for another six years.  2013 $15,000
Rhode Island Economic Progress Institute Expand Supported efforts to make state EITC fully refundable. 2014 $30,000
Utah Voices for Utah Children Create Supported efforts to introduce a new state EITC.   2013 $15,000
Utah Voices for Utah Children Create Supported efforts to pass a state refundable EITC.Legislature increased funding for VITA services.  2014 $20,000
Utah Voices for Utah Children Create Supported efforts to pass a state refundable EITC. Working to set stage for possible action in early 2016. 2014 $30,000
Vermont Public Assets Institute in Vermont Protect Preserved the full state EITC after a Democratic governor proposed reducing it by two-thirds.   2013 $25,000
Virginia The Commonwealth Institute  Expand Supported efforts to make state's current EITC refundable.  State EITC strengthened by connecting it to federal EITC improvements. 2014 $25,000
Washington Washington State Budget and Policy Center Create Supported efforts to introduce a new state EITC.  2012 $12,000