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Summaries of RCT Grants

11-year follow-up of the RCT of Project QUEST: A workforce development program for low-income adults

This project extends the long-term follow-up of a well-conducted RCT of Project QUEST – a workforce development program for low-income adults – through 11 years after random assignment.

Grant Recipient: Economic Mobility Corporation

Principal Investigators: Anne Roder, Ph.D., Economic Mobility Corporation

Mark Elliott, Economic Mobility Corporation

Term: 2020 –2022

Funding: $265,893

Summary: This project extends the long-term follow-up of a well-conducted RCT of Project QUEST – a workforce development program for low-income adults – through 11 years after random assignment.

QUEST provides support to low-income adults in San Antonio, TX to complete occupational training programs at local community colleges, pass certification exams, and enter well-paying careers in high-growth sectors of the local economy (e.g. healthcare). Key elements of the program are: (i) required full-time enrollment in an occupational training program with which QUEST has partnered; (ii) weekly group or individual counseling sessions; (iii) financial assistance for tuition and other school-related expenses; and (iv) remedial instruction for those requiring it. The program costs approximately $10,500 per participant.

Between 2006 and 2008, the researchers randomly assigned 410 low-income adults who were interested in healthcare-related training to a program group that received QUEST services or to a control group. Previous follow-up studies found that QUEST produced sizeable and sustained effects on earnings through nine years after random assignment. Specifically, QUEST increased average annual earnings in the ninth year after random assignment by $5,240 or 18% (the QUEST group’s earnings were $33,644 compared to $28,404 for the control group).

Under this project, the researchers will continue their partnership with the Ray Marshall Center at the University of Texas to extend follow-up to 11 years using Texas unemployment insurance data to estimate QUEST’s impact on earnings over the long-term. The researchers will also use other administrative data from the National Student Clearinghouse and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to estimate QUEST’s effects on educational attainment and public assistance receipt and to compare net benefits to net costs over the 11 years after random assignment.

The study’s pre-specified analysis plan is linked here.

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