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VIDA Program Shows Promising Educational Results


  • Low-income, high-school educated workers face poor employment prospects.
  • VIDA provided training and employment steps for locally in-demand jobs.
  • Participants earned more college credits/credentials than the control group.
The Challenge

Low-income workers with only a high school education face poor and declining employment prospects. Policymakers, workforce development organizations, educators  and other key stakeholders are interested in how to facilitate a better match between the nation’s need for a skilled workforce and the needs of low-income adults for employment. But to date, limited rigorous research is available on the effects of training programs on participants’ educational and economic outcomes.

The Approach

To assess VIDA’s effectiveness, we used an experimental design. Between November 2011 and September 2014, we randomly assigned 958 program applicants to a treatment group that had access to the program or a control group that did not. We then compared their outcomes. Data sources were: a follow-up survey conducted approximately 20 months after random assignment, administrative records from VIDA and college records from the local colleges that almost all VIDA participants and control group members attended.

The Results

VIDA’s direct assistance with tuition and related training expenses averaged almost $7,000 per participant. Training for nursing and allied health professions were the most common programs attended. The treatment group earned significantly more college credits than the control group. VIDA significantly increased rates of full-time college enrollment and enrollment more generally. The treatment group members earned significantly more college credentials.

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