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Robert L. Fischer, PhD, Research Associate Professor


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

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Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel
School of Applied Social Sciences
Case Western Reserve University
10900 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106-7164


Robert L. Fischer is a Research Associate Professor at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve University. He is also Co-Director of the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at MSASS, and leads the Center’s efforts in regard to evaluation research. Dr. Fischer leads a range of evaluation research studies and teaches evaluation methods to students in social science administration and nonprofit management. 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 at MSASS.
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Course List

MAND 410 Quantitative Analysis for Nonprofit LeadersMAND 422 Organizational Assessment & Program Evaluation in Nonprofit OrganizationsMAND 444 Program Design for Nonprofit Organizations


Co-Director, Center on Urban Poverty & Community Development —
Program Faculty, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for 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

Research ShowCASE on April 17 Spotlights Mandel School

Apr 16 2015

Research ShowCASECase Western Reserve’s Research ShowCASE on Friday, April 17, in the Veale Convocation Center brings together hundreds of researchers, scientists and scholars for a day of discovery, collaboration and community. Check out the list of presentations by Mandel School faculty, students and researchers, make a note to stop by the Begun Center’s booth at the event, and be sure to download the app to help you navigate the event!

Faculty, Research Staff and Doctoral Students

+ Jane Timmons-Mitchell, Laura Overman, Lacey Caporale, Rachel Lovell and Christopher Stormann: Wraparound Fidelity Monitoring: Using Process to Improve Outcomes in the Child Welfare System

+ Michael Gearhart, Mark Singer, Margaret Baughman-Sladky and Lacy Caporale: Predictors of Health in an Opiate Drug Court: Gender, Parental Status, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse

+ Cyleste C. Collins, Emily Miller, Robert Fischer and Renata Brown: Cleveland Botanical Garden Green Corps Evaluation

+ Youngsam Oh: The Relationships between Psychological Distress and General Health Information Seeking and Online Health Information Seeking

Intersections: Undergraduate Students (Research Advisor: Sharon Milligan)

+ Abigail Dwornik (BA Major: Psychology): Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illnesses in Incarcerated Populations and Effects on Recidivism: A Literature Review

+ Imani Scruggs (BA Major: Psychology; 3+2 MSSA Student: Direct Practice in Children, Youth and Families with a focus on Community Practice for Social Change): Forming Black Adolescent Identity:  A Review

+ Elizabeth Stotter (BA Major:  Psychology; 3+2 MSSA Student: Direct Practice with Children, Youth and Families): Approaching Resilience: Supporting Children Living in Low-Income and Poverty

Practitioners are focus of Conversation in Philanthropy on March 24

Mar 20 2015

philanthropy-tiesTwo Mandel School alumni are the featured presenters at “From Program Operator to Program Officer: What Practitioners Bring to the World of Philanthropy,” on Tuesday, March 24, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at Mandel Community Studies Center, Room 115.

This is the second of three Conversations in Philanthropy, a special series this spring sponsored by the Master of Nonprofit Organizations (MNO) program that brings the area’s brightest minds together to discuss trending topics in the world of philanthropy. The event includes speaker presentations, a Q&A session moderated by Dr. Robert Fischer (director of the MNO program), and a reception from 5:30 to 6 pm.

Philanthropy, from the Greek meaning “love of humanity,” has its roots in the simple notion of individuals helping others. Today, the staff members at foundations do the hard work of executing the mission of the foundations, which involves grant making.

Who are these individuals and what qualifies someone to take on this role? In this session we hear from two Mandel School alumni who made the transition from nonprofit agency to foundation officers, to learn what practitioners can bring to this important work. The presenters are:

Shilpa Kedar, MNO 2005, is program director of economic development at The Cleveland Foundation, where she works with city leaders, civic groups and foundation staff to support ongoing economic development efforts and develop new ones benefiting greater Cleveland.

Christie Manning, MSSA 1997, is senior program officer for resilient families at St. Luke’s Foundation. She provides leadership and oversight for all aspects of the Resilient Families program area, which is a grant portfolio designed to catalyze and sustain opportunities to ensure that community resources meet families’ needs and empower parents to implement their vision for the health and well-being of their families.

It is free and open to all, but registration is required. Simply email your RSVP to

1 PD hour is available for students, and 1 CEU is available for social workers. The CEU cost is $10 for Case Western Reserve alumni and $25 for non-alumni. Please make the CEU request in your RSVP. The entire lecture must be attended to receive a CEU.

Robert Fischer Discusses Ice Bucket Challenge with Plain Dealer

Aug 26 2014

ALS Association logo“The power of (the Ice Bucket Challenge) is that it was started by someone with ALS,” Dr. Robert Fischer, Co-Director of the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development and the Mandel School‘s director of the master’s degree program in nonprofit organizations, explained to the Cleveland Plain Dealer in “Local ALS nets thousands from Ice Bucket frenzy but don’t expect other groups to follow suit” on August 22, 2014.

The “Ice Bucket Challenge” has gained widespread attention online and in the media, encouraging fundraising and raising awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The Plain Dealer interviewed Fischer as a local nonprofit expert about the impact on fundraising organizations and campaigns.

“The Ice Bucket Challenge is similar to cash mobs in that they are initiated by people who care about the worth of these organizations,” Fischer added. “If other organizations did this it would likely dampen the excitement… This turned out to be a great way for (Ice Bucket Challenge originators) to accelerate what they were doing. But it would become routine.” Fischer doubts other fundraising organizations could co-opt the ice bucket movement as the current sensation and interest will not stay novel very long.

Explaining why the challenge gained so much attention so quickly compared with other fundraising activities such as bike rides and marathons, Fischer said “It doesn’t take a special talent to dump a bucket of ice water over your head.”

Read the entire article at