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Robert L. Fischer, PhD, Research 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 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

Cuyahoga County Youth Count Initiative 2015

Aug 18 2015

In June, thirty community organizations spread out across Cuyahoga County to count the number of unaccompanied youth (without a parent or guardian) who are currently homeless or unstably housed. The Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development worked with community partners to design the survey used to find out who these homeless youth are. Center staff then trained community workers in how to collect the data in a methodologically-sound and respectful way.

Read this brief report on the Youth Count. More detailed findings will be forthcoming.

The survey and resultant analysis were conducted by the following Center faculty and staff:

  • Dr. Elizabeth R. Anthony, senior research associate
  • Dr. Rob Fischer, co-director
  • Dr. Seok-Joo Kim, post-doctoral fellow
  • Yoonkyung Shin, Mandel School MSSA student research assistant
  • Marci Blue, research assistant

Watch: Conversations in Philanthropy 2015

Jul 22 2015

Conversations 224 21Cleveland claims a historic role in the philanthropic sector, as home to the world’s first community foundation and the precursor to the United Way movement.

But how has the landscape of the philanthropic sector changed in the past 100 years? What is its relevance to social change? And what do practitioners bring to philanthropy?

Those were questions addressed at Conversations in Philanthropy, a special series last spring that gathered philanthropic experts from the area’s top foundations and organizations – including several alumni – to share their insights and answer questions from the audience. It was sponsored by the Master of Nonprofit Organizations program with input from the Mandel School Visiting Committee and moderated by Robert L. Fischer, PhD, Director of the MNO Program and Co-Director of the Poverty Center.

Conversations in Philanthropy 2015:

Understanding Philanthropy: What You Need To Know About the Field on February 24, 2015, featured Marcia Egbert, JD, Senior Program Officer at the George Gund Foundation, and John Gest, MBA 2010, Managing Director of the Northern Ohio Office of Philanthropy Ohio (pictured with Dr. Fischer). Watch video >>

From Program Operator of Program Officer: What Practitioners Bring to the World of Philanthropy on March 24, 2015, featured Shilpa Kedar, MNO 2005, Program Director of Economic Development and The Cleveland Foundation, and Christie Manning, MSSA 1997, Senior Program Officer for Resilient Families at St. Luke’s Foundation. Watch video >>

Philanthropy is a Big Tent: Making Philanthropy Part of Your Lifelong Commitment on April 28, 2015, featured Leah Gary, MSN 1985, President and CEO of the William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Foundation and Jazmin Long, MSSA/MNO 2015, Welcoming Coordinator at Global Cleveland. Watch video >>

WCPN Discussion on Foster Youth Features Dr. Robert Fischer and Alumna

Jul 15 2015

wcpn_rgb_mediumFoster care youth who age out of the system are five times more likely to become homeless, Mandel School research reveals.

That was the topic of a vital 90.3 WCPN “Sound of Ideas” radio show on July 9 featuring alumna Angela D’Orazio, MSSA 2011, Program Officer at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland; field supervisor Kate Lodge, Program Director of A Place 4 Me initiative; Tasha Jones, a former foster child and a youth contributor to A Place 4 Me; Gary Stanger of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative; and Dr. Robert Fischer, Research Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Poverty Center, who is conducting a survey of Cleveland’s homeless youth and contributed insights from his research to the NPR radio show.

Listen: A Plan for Young Adults Aging Out of Foster Care >>