Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

The La Follette School and the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have a longstanding reciprocal relationship. IRP is a nonprofit and nonpartisan center for interdisciplinary research into the causes and consequences of poverty and social inequality. Established in 1966 by the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity, IRP has more than 150 faculty affiliates from institutions across the country.

Several La Follette School faculty members are IRP affiliates, and many La Follette students conduct research with IRP. Four La Follette School faculty members have served as IRP director:

La Follette School faculty, IRP directors

Timothy Smeeding, 2008-2014
Maria Cancian, 2004-2008
Barbara Wolfe, 1994-2000
Bob Haveman, 1971-1975

Each year, IRP faculty affiliates publish research in the most distinguished journals of their disciplines, as well as in books and conferences volumes; they teach undergraduate and graduate courses in poverty studies; and they mentor emerging scholars. They also collaborate on research, speak at IRP events, and contribute to a discussion paper series.

During its 50-year history, IRP has received primary funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) with additional support from other private and public entities, notably the state of Wisconsin, National Science Foundation, and U.S. Department of Labor. In 2016, IRP was awarded a five-year, $9.5 million cooperative agreement with ASPE to serve as the sole federally funded Poverty Research Center.