What is CoLab?
The Constellation Lab (“CoLab”) catalyzes, funds, and supports actionable research on poverty-fighting solutions. Created in January 2023, CoLab represents a philanthropic partnership of the Constellation Fund and the Foundation for Educational Research and Development (FERD) to invest in evidence to inform funding and community efforts to strengthen and scale effective solutions in Minnesota and beyond.
CoLab funds longitudinal evaluations of programs and practices to reduce intergenerational poverty and support thriving people, families, and communities. Unlike most evaluations that typically only follow outcomes for a year or two, CoLab-funded evaluations will assess outcomes over many years while sharing lessons along the way.
CoLab also funds complementary types of actionable research, such as mixed-methods process evaluations, community needs assessments, and research to inform the development or improvement of interventions before they undergo impact evaluation. CoLab will support partnerships to translate evidence to action through policy, philanthropy, and practice.
In partnership with the Foundation for Educational Research and Development (FERD).
We aim to reduce intergenerational poverty and support thriving communities by funding and supporting actionable, longitudinal research on programs, practices, and their effects. Better data will support evidence-informed funding and community efforts to strengthen and scale solutions.
Identify Promising Solutions
We identify promising solutions to poverty in Minnesota and beyond through listening and collaboration with community partners, engaging lived expertise, and examining existing evidence.
Fund and Support Actionable Research
Through funding longitudinal impact evaluations of promising solutions, we aim to strengthen evidence on what works to reduce poverty and support long-term thriving.
Contribute to Population-Level Impact
We aim to influence systems change and funding through strategic communication of research and collaboration with government, philanthropy, and community partners.
Dr. Matt Morton
Dr. Matt Morton
Dr. Matt Morton (pronouns: he/him/his) is an applied researcher with significant experience in working with communities, government, and philanthropy to create and use evidence for action. Matt is the Executive Director of the Constellation Lab (CoLab), which aims to reduce poverty by producing actionable data through high-quality, longitudinal research on programs, practices, and their effects. CoLab is a new philanthropic partnership of the Constellation Fund and the Foundation for Educational Research and Development (FERD).
Matt’s work has focused both in the U.S. and internationally on evidence-based practice and policy-making, research and evaluation methods, poverty-reduction policies, youth development and empowerment, housing justice and homelessness prevention, cash transfer and “cash plus” solutions, gender equity, and gender-based violence prevention.
In Matt’s previous role as Research Fellow at Chapin Hall, he led the most extensive national research initiative to-date on youth homelessness and developed homelessness prevention models and a multisite longitudinal evaluation of cash transfer and support interventions for young adults. Matt held previous positions at the World Bank as an Economist and Social Protection Specialist, the U.S. government as a Special Advisor on youth and family policy, in philanthropy, and with youth-serving nonprofits. While working in the federal government, he was a key contributor to the development of the U.S. Government’s national strategy and framework to end youth homelessness. Matt’s work is widely published and has influenced policy, philanthropic investments, and practice. Central to his work is the importance of collaborating with lived and community experts to advance racial equity and the outcomes and solutions that they value.
Matt is a Board Member for the Corporation for Supportive Housing, an Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Adolescent Health, an Associate Member of University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence Based Intervention, a Research Management Committee Member for Making the Shift (in Canada), and an Advisory Committee Member for the five-year governmental plan for the socio-economic development of the Bedouin society (in Israel).
Ruthvin Gardiner (pronouns: he/him/his) is a Research Associate at the Constellation Lab (CoLab). Ruthvin reviews and leverages existing evidence to inform CoLab’s investments into research on intergenerational poverty-fighting solutions, and he supports and advises CoLab-supported research activities. He also plays a significant project management role as CoLab moves from its startup phase to full implementation with investments into applied research projects.
Ruthvin previously worked as a Research Assistant for the University of Minnesota’s Public Life Project where he researched evidence to address division and polarization and organized initiatives on civic education and democracy through cultivating partnerships. Previously, he was an educator with middle to high school students at Gifft Hill School, an independent organization offering experiential learning opportunities on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Gardiner is a graduate of the Master of Arts in Public Policy program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, and he completed his Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Hispanic Studies and Global Management at Earlham College.
Consultant (Community Engagement)
Consultant (Community Engagement)
In conjunction with the staff of the Constellation Fund.
Collaboration is critical to CoLab’s goals. Given the importance of different perspectives to CoLab’s success, we established two groups—Impact Supporters and Scientific Advisors—to inform and support CoLab’s investments. Neither of these groups makes CoLab funding decisions, but they inform and support our efforts.
Our Philanthropic Collaborator
Foundation for Educational Research and Development (FERD)
The Foundation for Educational Research and Development (FERD) is a philanthropic foundation that invests in the development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based solutions to reducing educational and poverty gaps. Currently, FERD’s grant-making focuses on research projects and education, learning, and skills-development programs in Minnesota. Starting in January 2023, FERD partnered with the Constellation Fund to launch CoLab. FERD funds the full costs of CoLab’s operations and grant-making.