Evaluation of Community Development Financial Institution and Minority Depository Institution Lender Participation in SBA Capital Programs and Lender Match

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Program Evaluation & Evidence Registry (PEER) report

The SBA’s Office of Capital Access helps make capital available to small businesses through banks and other lending partners, and expanding access to the SBA’s capital programs through lending institutions specializing in local communities may reduce racial and gender disparities that persist in the use of and access to credit. This evaluation examined the attractors, facilitators, and barriers to Community Development Financial Institution and Minority Depository Institution participation in four of the SBA’s capital programs and Lender Match. More than 350 lenders participated in a web-based survey, and 89 participated in virtual interviews. Lenders reported that the mitigation of lending risk and the ability to serve higher-risk borrowers were the top loan program attractors. Collaboration with SBA District Offices, standardized financial forms, and clear program eligibility requirements facilitate participation. Internal lender organizational barriers and programmatic rules/regulations were reported as the main participation barriers. Finally, lender feedback suggests that additional examination of the Lender Match tool’s functionality is warranted to ensure it meets borrowers’ and lenders’ needs. Overall, the findings from this study support the agency’s efforts to extend access to the SBA capital programs through institutions specializing in local communities, and it furthers the SBA’s efforts to reduce disparities in accessing and using credit.

Read the Program Evaluation & Evidence Registry (PEER) report final report.

7(j) Training Program for 8(a) Participants Evaluation Report

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The 7(j) online training program is a resource provided by the SBA to all 8(a) participants. Through training and education, the program helps 8(a) businesses by enhancing their capacity to obtain federal contracts. This evaluation aimed to understand the use of the 7(j) program by 8(a) certified firms and the effectiveness of this training on 8(a) participant outcomes.

Read the 7(j) Training Program for 8(a) Participants Evaluation Report

Evaluation of Boots to Business Virtual Training Report

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) contracted with Optimal Solutions Group, LLC to evaluate the implementation of the Boots to Business (B2B) Introduction to Entrepreneurship course in the virtual delivery format during the COVID-19 pandemic. The evaluation period, FY 2019 through FY 2021 (10/1/2018 to 9/30/2021), allowed for the comparison between pre-COVID and COVID periods for the Quality Assessment Post Course Survey results. The evaluation included descriptive, univariate, multivariate, and qualitative analyses of the data.

The findings indicate that approximately 90% of B2B participants were satisfied with the course materials, instructor, and classroom. Additionally, participants in virtual classes had slightly higher satisfaction rates with course materials, classroom, and instructor than in-person classes before the pandemic. The evaluation also identified opportunities to incorporate leading practices related to learner-centered learning, student motivation and engagement, and IT proficiency and use.

Read the Boots to Business Virtual Training Evaluation Report.

Optimal Awarded Evaluation of the Summer Food Service Program Participant Characteristics


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in their efforts to reach out to small businesses, awarded Optimal Solutions Group, LLC (Optimal) a contract to study and prepare a report which documents the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) providers and participant characteristics. The SFSP was designed to ensure that children who benefit from the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) do not experience a nutrition gap during the summer months when schools are not in session.

The project is composed of several major tasks:

    • Conduct a census of State Agencies from the 50 states, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, and collect data from nationally representative samples of sponsors and sites.
    • Administer a sub-study of state and local SFSP staff from high and low-participation states to examine the differences in participation in SFSP and factors that affect participation by sponsors and children.
    • Conduct interviews with parents/caregivers of participants to augment the census and sub-study data, to gather descriptive information on the reasons their children participate in SFSP programs, how often the children attend SFSP sites, what could improve levels of attendance, and how the parents/caregivers of participants heard about the program.

The last major evaluation of the characteristics and impact of SFSP was released in 2003. There have been some significant policy changes to SFSP since 2003 that could impact participation in the program by children, sponsors, and sites. The research team will collect and analyze data to examine issues that pertain to how the SFSP operates on the State, sponsor, site and participant levels. As health and budget concerns increase, it is especially important that food programs directed toward children are structured as efficiently as possible to achieve the intended effects.