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Summaries of RCT Grants

RCT of Capital IDEA’s program to help low-income adults complete postsecondary education and obtain well-paying jobs in the field of nursing

This project is a randomized control trial (RCT) to evaluate the impact of Capital IDEA – a program in Austin, Texas to help low-income adults complete postsecondary education and obtain well-paying jobs.

Grant Recipient: Economic Mobility Corporation

Term: 2019 –2029

Principal Investigator: Mark Elliott, Mobility

Anne Roder, Ph.D., Mobility

Funding: $1,028,126

Summary: This project is a randomized control trial (RCT) to evaluate the impact of Capital IDEA – a program in Austin, Texas to help low-income adults complete postsecondary education and obtain well-paying jobs. Key elements of the program include: (i) financial supports for college attendance; (ii) required full-time college enrollment; (iii) individualized counseling to address personal and academic challenges; and (iv) job placement assistance upon degree completion. Program participation typically lasts 4-5 years and costs roughly $24,000 per student.

Capital IDEA is backed by promising prior evidence from its “sister” organizations, which deliver programs with similar features including a sharp focus on training for well-paying jobs in high-growth sectors of the local economy. These other programs include: (i) Project QUEST, which has been shown in a well-conducted RCT to increase annual earnings by $5,490 or 20% at 9-year follow-up (the QUEST group’s earnings were $33,496 compared to $28,006 for the control group); and (ii) VIDA, which has been shown in initial findings from a well-conducted RCT to increase degree completion from 36% in the control group to 46% in the treatment group at 3-year follow-up. This RCT will determine whether the positive impacts found in these prior studies can be reproduced in a different city with students pursuing degrees in registered nursing.

In this study, Mobility will partner with Capital IDEA to recruit a sample of 700 low-income adults interested in enrolling in the Associate Degree Nursing Program at Austin Community College (ACC) and randomly assign half to an offer of participation in Capital IDEA (treatment group) and half to usual community services (control group). The study’s primary outcomes will be: (i) percent of participants completing the prerequisites for the nursing program within two years of random assignment; and (ii) percent who earn an associate degree in nursing within five years of random assignment, measured with administrative data from ACC and the National Student Clearinghouse. The study will also include an implementation analysis and a cost-effectiveness analysis of Capital IDEA.

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

Grants

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