Grantee: Economic Mobility Corporation (Mobility). Mobility’s full study report is linked here.
Description of the Intervention: This is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of Project QUEST in San Antonio, Texas. QUEST provides comprehensive support and resources to help low-income individuals enroll full-time in occupational training programs at local community colleges, complete the training, pass certification exams, and enter well-paying careers in high-growth sectors of the local economy (hence, the program is sometimes described as a “sectoral” training program). In this study, the program focused on jobs in the healthcare sector. Major components of the program are: required full-time enrollment in a college occupational training program that QUEST is partnered with, required weekly group or individual counseling sessions, financial assistance for tuition and other school-related expenses, and remedial instruction for those requiring it. The program costs approximately $11,700 per participant. (All dollar amounts shown in this summary are constant 2017 dollars.)
Study Design: Between 2006 and 2008, the researchers randomly assigned 410 low-income individuals who were interested in nursing, medical records coding, or other health-related training to (i) a program group that received QUEST services focused on healthcare occupations, or (ii) a control group that did not receive these services. Sample members were largely female (88%), Latino (74%), and unmarried (72%), and most had only a high school diploma or GED (95%). They averaged 30 years of age, and earned an average of $12,775 in the year prior to program entry. An earlier study follow-up, published in 2017, found that QUEST increased average annual earnings in the sixth year after random assignment by $5,365, compared to the control group, based on sample members’ self-reports. 
With Arnold Ventures funding, the researchers conducted a longer-term follow-up, measuring annual earnings in the ninth year after random assignment using Texas unemployment insurance records (earnings in year nine was the study’s primary pre-specified outcome for this follow-up). The purpose was to determine whether the program’s earning effects endure over time and constitute a sustained improvement in participants’ economic well-being. 
Impact on the Primary Outcome: The study found that QUEST’s earnings effects were sustained. Specifically, QUEST increased average annual earnings in the ninth year after random assignment by $5,490 or 20% (the QUEST group’s earnings were $33,496 compared to $28,006 for the control group). This effect was statistically significant (p=0.02). In addition, the study corroborated the sizable effects on self-reported earnings in prior years using Texas unemployment insurance records.
Study Quality: Based on careful review, we believe this was a well-conducted RCT that produced valid findings. 
 Support for the initial six-year study came principally from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, with additional support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through a contract with Abt Associates.
 As part of the project, the researchers will also measure exploratory long-term outcomes, including educational attainment and receipt of public assistance, and will conduct a cost-benefit analysis (these findings are expected in February 2020).
 For example, the study had successful random assignment (as evidenced by highly similar treatment and control groups), no sample attrition, and valid analyses that were publicly pre-registered.