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Summaries of RCT Grants

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

This is a long-term follow-up of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of Project QUEST – a workforce development program for low-income individuals – which found large impacts on participant earnings and employment.

Grant Recipient: Economic Mobility Corporation 

Term: 2017 –2020

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

Funding: $237,848

Summary: This is a long-term follow-up of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of Project QUEST – a workforce development program for low-income individuals – which found large impacts on participant earnings and employment. QUEST supports low-income students’ completion of college credentials in occupational areas that pay good wages and are in high demand in San Antonio, Texas. Major components of the program are: required full-time enrollment in an occupational program that QUEST supports, required weekly group or individual counseling sessions, financial assistance for tuition and other school-related expenses, and a remedial education course for those requiring it. The program costs approximately $10,500 per participant.

Between 2006 and 2008, the RCT randomly assigned 410 individuals who were interested in nursing, medical records coding, or another health-related program that QUEST supports, but who were not currently attending college, to QUEST or to a control group. The study was very well conducted and, in 2017, the Economic Mobility Corporation published six-year follow-up findings based on a survey with high completion rates. The impact in the sixth year after random assignment was $5,080 in annual earnings per person, among the largest ever observed in a workforce-focused RCT.

Under this project, the researchers will partner with the Ray Marshall Center at the University of Texas to extend follow-up to nine years using Texas unemployment insurance earnings data. The researchers will also use other administrative data to estimate long-term effects on educational attainment and public assistance receipt. Finally, they will conduct a simple and straightforward cost-benefit analysis. The study’s pre-specified analysis plan is linked here.

This study has been completed. A plain-language summary of the findings is available here.

Grants

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