Brett Theodos

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Brett Theodos


Senior Fellow, Urban Institute


Brett Theodos directs the Community Economic Development Hub at the Urban Institute where he is a senior. His work focuses on performance measurement and learning in the substance areas of economic and community development, neighborhood change, affordable homeownership, and consumer finance.

Dr. Theodos is working to grow nonprofit capacity in evaluation and performance measurement. He directs Measure4Change, which provides technical assistance and facilitates a community of practice for nonprofits. Related to this work, he has led three randomized controlled trial evaluations of locally based youth workforce and education preparedness programs.

Examples of his economic and community development research include evaluations of the Economic Development Administration, the New Markets Tax Credit program, SBA small business loan and investment programs, Opportunity Zones, and HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods, Strong Cities Strong Communities, Community Development Block Grant, and Section 108 programs. He is studying how capital flows (or fails to flow) into communities, including local-level studies of Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Fresno, Memphis, Minneapolis, and St. Paul. This includes exploring the roles of mission finance actors like CDFIs. He is also leading a series of projects researching how diverse entrepreneurs can access capital to sustain and expand their businesses, and how to grow the cooperative business sector.

Dr. Theodos has conducted multiple research studies of neighborhood change and the role of geographic mobility. He is investigating the effects of several large place-based (comprehensive community) initiatives. He has led several studies of affordable homeownership supports, including shared equity models like community land trusts, along with research on downpayment assistance and alternative financing structures. In the financial services and capability space, he has led multiple studies of financial coaching, financial education curriculum, and rules of thumb for financial decisionmaking. He has explored the geography of debt in America and the use of high-cost tax refund products.

Dr. Theodos serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Community Progress and the Douglass Community Land Trust.

Dr. Theodos received his BA from Northwestern University, his MPP from Georgetown University, and his PhD in Public Policy and Administration from George Washington University.

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