James Riccio joined the board of directors for The Community Builders, Inc. in February 2015. Riccio is a policy area director at MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization dedicated to learning what works to improve the lives of low-income families. He leads MDRC’s Low-Wage Workers and Communities policy area, which tests innovative approaches to improve families’ labor market, human capital and quality-of-life outcomes, usually through randomized controlled trials. In addition to overseeing the work of his department, Riccio currently serves as the principal investigator for MDRC’s evaluation of the Family Rewards conditional cash transfer programs for low-income families in New York City and Memphis, Tennessee. Additionally, under a contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, he is directing a four-city test of an alternative rent policy designed to improve work outcomes for recipients of Housing Choice Vouchers and reduce housing agencies’ costs of administering the rent-subsidy program.
From 2003 to 2011, Riccio led an MDRC-UK research consortium that designed and evaluated the UK Employment Retention and Advancement demonstration, at the time Britain’s largest and most comprehensive randomized trial in social policy, under a contract with the UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). He now serves on an expert advisory panel for DWP’s evaluation of Universal Credit, Britain’s major new welfare reform policy. He is also a member of the research advisory council of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Over his long career at MDRC, Riccio has also been a lead researcher on evaluations of a variety of welfare-to-work programs, the Jobs-Plus employment program for residents of public housing, and other initiatives. He holds a doctorate in sociology from Princeton University.