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Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA) Three-Year Impact Report

Elizabeth Copson, Larry Buron, and Samuel Dastrup Abt Associate; Howard Rolston, Consultant


July 22, 2021

This report documents the impacts for the Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement program (VIDA) three years after random assignment. VIDA is a nonprofit, community-based organization created through a partnership of faith-based leaders and the business community of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas. The program supports training for unemployed and other low-income adults to obtain certificates and degrees that are expected to lead to jobs that pay well and are in demand locally. The program requires fulltime enrollment to accelerate achievement of credentials and offers counseling, financial support, a basic skills program, and assessments of the local labor market.

The results were mixed. VIDA increased receipt of a college credential requiring a year or more of training  and had a positive impact on other education outcomes such as increased full-time equivalent college enrollment. But the program had no detectable effect on earnings and few effects on other employment-related or other economic outcomes.

VIDA is part of the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) project. Funded by the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, PACE is a multi-site experimental evaluation of nine programs that incorporate some features of a career pathways framework.