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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Grinstein-Weiss, Michal; Sherraden, Michael; Gale, William; Rohe, William; Schreiner, Mark; Key, Clinton
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    This paper presents evidence from a randomized field experiment testing the impact of a 3-year matched savings program on educational outcomes 10 years after the start of the experiment. We examine the effect of an Individual Development Account (IDA) program on (1) educational enrollment, (2) degree completion, and (3) increased education level. The IDA program, which ran from 1998 to 2003 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, provided low-income households with financial education and matching funds for qualified savings withdrawals, including a 1:1 match for educational uses. We find a significant impact on education enrollment and positive (but nonsignificant) impacts on degree completion and increase in level of education. We also examine the interaction between gender and treatment assignment, finding that the IDA had a strong positive effect on increased educational attainment for men but not for women. (author abstract)

    This paper presents evidence from a randomized field experiment testing the impact of a 3-year matched savings program on educational outcomes 10 years after the start of the experiment. We examine the effect of an Individual Development Account (IDA) program on (1) educational enrollment, (2) degree completion, and (3) increased education level. The IDA program, which ran from 1998 to 2003 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, provided low-income households with financial education and matching funds for qualified savings withdrawals, including a 1:1 match for educational uses. We find a significant impact on education enrollment and positive (but nonsignificant) impacts on degree completion and increase in level of education. We also examine the interaction between gender and treatment assignment, finding that the IDA had a strong positive effect on increased educational attainment for men but not for women. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Tessler, Betsy
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2013

    Even in good economic times, many low-income, low-skilled adults in the United States have difficulty obtaining jobs that pay enough to support their families and advancing in the labor market. Individuals with no more than a high school education have seen their wages remain flat in real terms for decades, and their employment is often unsteady. Although training programs abound, many low-income individuals cannot afford them, do not complete them, or do not obtain a marketable credential. At the same time, many employers claim that they cannot easily find people with the right occupational skills to meet their needs. Because of this skills mismatch, some types of jobs go unfilled, even in a weak economy. There has been much debate in recent years about how national workforce policy should address these issues, but policymakers have few rigorous studies to inform their deliberations, and not enough evidence about what works best.

    This policy brief discusses a new skills-building model called “WorkAdvance” that is designed to help low-income...

    Even in good economic times, many low-income, low-skilled adults in the United States have difficulty obtaining jobs that pay enough to support their families and advancing in the labor market. Individuals with no more than a high school education have seen their wages remain flat in real terms for decades, and their employment is often unsteady. Although training programs abound, many low-income individuals cannot afford them, do not complete them, or do not obtain a marketable credential. At the same time, many employers claim that they cannot easily find people with the right occupational skills to meet their needs. Because of this skills mismatch, some types of jobs go unfilled, even in a weak economy. There has been much debate in recent years about how national workforce policy should address these issues, but policymakers have few rigorous studies to inform their deliberations, and not enough evidence about what works best.

    This policy brief discusses a new skills-building model called “WorkAdvance” that is designed to help low-income adults prepare for, enter, and succeed in quality jobs, in high-demand fields with opportunities for career growth. Depending on the location, these sectors of the labor market currently include, for example, information technology (IT), transportation, manufacturing, health care, and environmental remediation. The WorkAdvance model incorporates strategies often found in sector-based employment programs that have operated for years. It combines these strategies with job coaching after participants are placed into jobs, building on approaches that showed promise in earlier “postemployment” interventions.

    The New York City Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), a unit of the Mayor’s Office, and MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, developed the WorkAdvance model, and MDRC is evaluating it using a randomized control trial. Launched as a research demonstration project under the federal Social Innovation Fund, WorkAdvance is being operated by four providers in four locations: New York City; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Cleveland and Youngstown, Ohio. This brief discusses the origins of the WorkAdvance model, its major features, how it is being evaluated, and some early observations of how the providers are operating the program. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Tessler, Betsy L.; Bangser, Michael; Pennington, Alexandra; Schaberg, Kelsey; Dalporto, Hannah
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2014

    The WorkAdvance program model integrates the most promising features of two especially important areas of workforce policy: “sectoral” strategies, which seek to meet the needs of both workers and employers by preparing individuals for quality jobs in specific high-demand industries or occupational clusters, and job retention and career advancement strategies, which seek to improve workers’ prospects for sustained employment and upward mobility. Specifically, the WorkAdvance model offers the following sequence of sector-focused program components to participants for up to two years after enrollment: preemployment and career readiness services, occupational skills training, job development and placement, and postemployment retention and advancement services. WorkAdvance programs are currently operated by four organizations (two in New York City, one in Tulsa, and one in Greater Cleveland) that focus on a variety of sectors and bring different types of experience and approaches to the implementation of WorkAdvance.

    This first report presents early findings on how the four...

    The WorkAdvance program model integrates the most promising features of two especially important areas of workforce policy: “sectoral” strategies, which seek to meet the needs of both workers and employers by preparing individuals for quality jobs in specific high-demand industries or occupational clusters, and job retention and career advancement strategies, which seek to improve workers’ prospects for sustained employment and upward mobility. Specifically, the WorkAdvance model offers the following sequence of sector-focused program components to participants for up to two years after enrollment: preemployment and career readiness services, occupational skills training, job development and placement, and postemployment retention and advancement services. WorkAdvance programs are currently operated by four organizations (two in New York City, one in Tulsa, and one in Greater Cleveland) that focus on a variety of sectors and bring different types of experience and approaches to the implementation of WorkAdvance.

    This first report presents early findings on how the four local program providers translated the WorkAdvance model into a workable program. It offers lessons that may be helpful to organizations seeking to implement a sector-focused career advancement program like WorkAdvance. (author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Hendra, Rick
    Reference Type: Conference Paper
    Year: 2015

    This powerpoint presentation from the 2015 NAWRS conference describes an implementation study of an employment retention and advancement program based in three cities.

    This powerpoint presentation from the 2015 NAWRS conference describes an implementation study of an employment retention and advancement program based in three cities.

  • Individual Author: Adams, Gina; Derrick-Mills, Teresa; Heller, Caroline
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2016

    Child care can be an insurmountable barrier for low-income parents seeking education and training so they can get better jobs to support their families. Helping families with child care can also be challenging for programs trying to help these parents get ahead. Despite funding and policy barriers, there are programs that have taken on this challenge. This brief summarizes a longer study and lays out six steps that local and state programs can take to address the child care needs of parents in education and training. This is part of the Urban Institute’s series of reports from the Bridging the Gap project, which focuses on what we know about the child care needs of parents needing education and training. (Author abstract)

    Child care can be an insurmountable barrier for low-income parents seeking education and training so they can get better jobs to support their families. Helping families with child care can also be challenging for programs trying to help these parents get ahead. Despite funding and policy barriers, there are programs that have taken on this challenge. This brief summarizes a longer study and lays out six steps that local and state programs can take to address the child care needs of parents in education and training. This is part of the Urban Institute’s series of reports from the Bridging the Gap project, which focuses on what we know about the child care needs of parents needing education and training. (Author abstract)

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