Biography Curriculum Vitae Recent Publications Recent Grants


Robert L. Fischer, PhD

Associate Professor
Program Director, Master of Nonprofit Organizations
Co-Director, Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development

PhD, Vanderbilt University
MPP, Vanderbilt University
AB, Duke University

Google Scholar citation page

Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences

Mandel Center for Community Studies, Room 211
Case Western Reserve University
11402 Bellflower Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44106


Robert L. Fischer is an Associate Professor at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve University, where he leads a range of evaluation research studies and teaches evaluation methods to graduate students in social work and nonprofit management. He is also Co-Director of the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development. Since 2001, he has led the Center’s research on Invest in Children, a county-wide early childhood initiative that includes home visiting, children’s health, and childcare components. Dr. Fischer is also faculty director of the Masters of Nonprofit Organizations (MNO) degree program.  Read full biosketch.

Course List

SASS 410 Nonprofit Data-Based Decision Making
SASS 532 Needs Assessment & Program Evaluation
SASS 545 Nonprofit Program Design


Co-Director, Center on Urban Poverty & Community Development
Program Director, Master of Nonprofit Organizations
Board President, Ohio Program Evaluators’ Group
Faculty Associate, Schubert Center for Child Studies

The Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development

mandel center webRobert L. Fischer, Ph.D is Co-Director of the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development.The Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development seeks to address the problems of persistent and concentrated urban poverty and is dedicated to understanding how social and economic changes affect low-income communities and their residents. Based in Cleveland, the Center views the city as both a tool for building communities and producing change locally, and as a representative urban center from which nationally-relevant research and policy implications can be drawn.. | Read More |

Recent Publications

Collins, C. C., Fischer, R. L., & Lalich, N. (in press). Enhancing child care for children with special needs through technical assistance. The Journal of Family Strengths. Accepted December 2013.

Small, M., Fischer, R. L., Berner, L., & Cooper-Lewter, S. (2014). Support for Sister-affiliated ministries during challenging times: Understanding a foundation initiative in two regions. Foundation Review, 5(4), 14-25.

Chaidez-Gutierrez, F., & Fischer, R. L. (2013). Reflecting on grantee accountability to funders: Exploring power dynamics with grassroots organizations in communities of color. Journal of Community Practice, 21. 304-326.

Roudebush, M. M., Fischer, R. L., & Brudney, J. L. (2013). Adding assets to needs:  Creating a community data landscape. Journal for Nonprofit Management, 15(2), 5-18.

Chelimsky, T. C, Fischer, R. L., Levin, J., Cheren, M., Marsh, S., & Janata, J. (2013). The Primary Practice Physician Program for Chronic Pain (4PCP): Outcomes of a model for community-based training and support. Clinical Journal of Pain. Publication ahead of print at The Clinical Journal of Pain.

Fischer, R. L., Peterson, L., Bhatta, T. R., & Coulton, C. (2013). Getting ready for school: Piloting universal pre-kindergarten in an urban county. Journal of Education for Students Placed At Risk, 18(2), 128-140.

Fischer, R. L., & Murphy, M. A, (2013). The harvest of ministry: Exploring the ministry of women religious in Cleveland. Journal of Religion and Society, 15,1-15.

Recent Presentations

Fischer, R. L., Brudney, J., & Roudebush, M. (2013). Expectations and experience:  The adoption and use of community data systems. Annual Conference of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action. Hartford, CT. November.

Foreman, K., Fischer, R., Greenberg, S., & Berges, M. (2013) Deep Green and Healthy Homes- Occupant Interview Study: The role of occupant behavior in achieving energy reductions and improved indoor air quality in affordable housing. Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Cleveland, OH. November.

Fischer, R. L. (2013). Upfront evaluation planning. Swanston Fund Innovations Conference. Youngstown, OH. November.

Fischer, R. L., & Coulton, C. (2013). Using integrated data to assess and monitor a community initiative on child well-being. American Evaluation Association Annual Conference. Washington, DC. October.

Fischer, R. L., Coulton, C., & Kim, S. J. (2013). How partnerships with higher education help your state agency use early childhood data for decision-making. Invited presentation. Improving Data, Improving Outcomes conference. Washington, DC. September.

Fischer, R. L., & Staib, R. O. (2013). Addressing early childhood mental health needs: Outcomes from Cuyahoga County. Cuyahoga County Conference on Social Welfare. Cleveland, OH. March.

Dorman, R., & Fischer, R. L. (2013). Invest in Children: A community update. Philanthropy Ohio. Cleveland, OH. March.

Fischer, R. L. (2013). Using socio-economic data to inform health policy and practice. Invited talk. Center for Health Care Research & Policy, MetroHealth Medical Center. February.

Dorman, R., & Fischer, R. L. (2013). Early childhood services and Invest in Children. Pediatric Grand Rounds, Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. Cleveland, OH. January.

In the News

New Report on Cuyahoga Partnering for Family Success Process Evaluation

Jul 27 2017

The Poverty Center has released its first Briefly Stated report of the year on the process evaluation of the first two years of Partnering for Family Success (PFS), a five-year randomized control study underway in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. The program is a partnership between FrontLine Service, Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services, Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center, and Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.

Using the evidence-based Critical Time Intervention framework, and focusing on homeless caregivers with children in out-of-home placement (OHP), the PFS program seeks to safely reduce the number of days that children spend in OHP. The overall program goal is to safely reunite families quickly by providing families with housing, and offering supportive services, using avoided foster care costs to serve families more effectively. Data from multiple sources indicated that the PFS program helps to stabilize families in the treatment group through providing housing and increased levels of public assistance. Treatment group families also show less involvement with child welfare and decrease their contacts with case management services over time. However, clients’ experiences with domestic violence and service coordination across agencies were identified as important challenges.

Download the Briefly Stated report.

The report was authored by Rong Bai, MSSA, MNO, Cyleste C. Collins, Ph.D., David Crampton, Ph.D., Chun Liu, MSSA and Rob Fischer, Ph.D.

The report’s authors appreciate the assistance of Brianna Andrie who conducted two of the interviews. Dana Santo of FrontLine Service, and Karen Anderson at DCFS helped to arrange the interviews. Poverty Center researchers Tsui Chan, Marci Blue, and Nina Lalich assisted with and/or conducted the analyses.

Navigating HIPAA, FERPA and the IRB: Leverage Big Data to Better Serve Children and Families Research Colloquium, Featuring Drs. Beth Anthony & Rob Fischer on February 24

Feb 3 2017

Fri, February 24, 2017, 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM

All are invited to Navigating HIPAA, FERPA and the IRB: Leverage Big Data to Better Serve Children and Families, a FREE research colloquium at 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. EST on Friday, February 24, 2017, in room #108 of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Community Studies Center at 11402 Bellflower Road on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. Lunch will be provided.

Presented by the Mandel School’s Office of Research Administration and the Doctoral Program, 2016-2017 Research & Training Colloquia are part of the Centennial Speaker Series and are “Featuring Our Own,” spotlighting the Mandel School’s own groundbreaking research.



Integrated data systems (IDS) provide significant value for needs identification, program planning, and evaluation across a broad range of social issues. In this colloquium, we highlight lessons learned about the use of Protected Health Information (PHI) from two research studies: 1) a county-funded evaluation of early childhood mental health service receipt, and 2) a longitudinal analysis of the association between lifetime lead exposure and kindergarten readiness.


Elizabeth Anthony, PhD, Research Assistant Professor

Robert Fischer, PhD, Researcher Professor and Co-Director of the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development


Free and open to all. 1.5 social work CEUs are available for in-person attendees ($10 for CWRU alumni; $25 for non-alumni). 4 CRECS. To attend online via livestream, click the livestream option when RSVPing and you will be provided a link as the event date approaches. No CEUs are available for livestream attendees.


Mandel School students receive 1.5 PD hours for attending (online and intensive weekend students who watch via livestream can receive 1.5 PD hours by submitting a brief summary to their field advisor). On-campus students can also visit with the speakers immediately following the colloquium.

For more details about this and other Mandel School Centennial Speaker Series events, visit

Questions? Please email or call 216.368.2270.

Rob Fischer Wants Poor Communities to have Better Access to Healthier Food

Feb 3 2017

Dr. Robert Fischer, co-director of the Poverty Center, expressed his concerns to Newsnet 5 for their report “Food stamp families buying a lot of soft drinks” on February 2, 2017. According to a recent USDA report, while the spending habits of  families receiving SNAP benefits are similar to the general public, soft drinks tended to be the number one commodity purchased by  food stamp recipient households.

Dr. Fischer sees this as a point of concern, commenting on how poor communities need improved access to farmers markets and full service grocery stores. For many, the prevalent convenience stores are their primary access to food which offer less variety.

In response to proposals to put limits on SNAP for buying junk food, Fischer said it would be difficult to enforce. “It sounds easy enough. I think the thing we need to remember is the burden falls on the stores.”

Also read about SNAP trends in Cuyahoga County and view our interactive graph.