Biography Curriculum Vitae Recent Publications Recent Grants


Robert L. Fischer, PhD, Research Associate Professor


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

Visit my Google Scholar citation page

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.
Read full biosketch.

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

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

Plain Dealer: FitzGerald’s Pre-K Proposal

May 21 2014

JESPARA 2013 report from the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development on the benefits of prekindergarten education was cited by the Cleveland Plain Dealer in “FitzGerald’s universal preschool proposal: What you’re saying” on May 15, 2014. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald is running for Ohio Governor and announced the day before that he would be making his “Pre-K All the Way” plan for universal prekindergarten a primary policy of his campaign.

The Poverty Center report “Getting Ready for School: Piloting Universal Prekindergarten in an Urban County” in the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk is cited in the story as having found “lower-achieving children attending pre-K programs in Cuyahoga County made bigger gains and exceeded expectations compared to already high-achieving children.”

“Getting Ready for School” was written by Center Co-Director Dr. Rob Fischer, former staff researcher and doctoral student Lancer Peterson, doctoral assistant Tirth Bhatta, and Center Co-Director Dr. Claudia Coulton.

The Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development is a research center at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, a graduate school of social work at Case Western Reserve University.

Robert Fischer co-authors article with alumna Francisca Chaidez-Guitierrez in Journal of Community Practice

Mar 25 2014

2014 Journal of Community Practice

An article co-authored by Professor Robert Fischer and Francisca Chaidez-Guitierrez (MSSA, 2008; MNO, 2011), “Reflecting on Grantee Evaluation Accountability to Funders: Exploring Power Dynamics with Grassroots Organizations in Communities of Color,” was recently published by the Journal of Community Practice.

“Francisca did an independent study with me in her final year at the Mandel School and that became the basis for this lead article in the Journal of Community Practice. It’s a great example of how a student project can lead to publishable work,” said Dr. Fischer.

Francisca has both a Master’s of Science in Social Administration and a Master’s of Nonprofit Organizations from the Mandel School and is now a fundraising consultant to grassroots organization in San Francisco, Cleveland, Oberlin, and New York City. She recalls:

“I began working on this project as an independent study in the fall of 2010. I was working as a volunteer in several grassroots organizations in the Cleveland and Oberlin communities and became observant of frustrations and concerns that were often voiced in these communities in regards to philanthropic funding and racial disparities. I had a lot of questions and, with the support of Dr. Fischer, I was able to investigate. The questions I set out with are still of great interest to fellow community servants and I hope to have the opportunity to continue answering them via community service.”