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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: Schirm, Allen; Stuart, Elizabeth; McKie, Allison
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2006

    From 1995 to 2001, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Ford Foundation ran a demonstration of the Quantum Opportunity Program (QOP), mainly an after-school program that also began offering intensive and comprehensive services to at-risk youth when they entered ninth grade. QOP’s goals were to increase rates of high school graduation and enrollment in postsecondary education or training; secondary goals included improving high school grades and achievement test scores and reducing risky behaviors, such as substance abuse, crime, and teen parenting. This final report from Mathematica's random assignment evaluation presents impacts on outcomes measured when most sample members were 22 to 25 years old. Overall, QOP did not achieve its primary or secondary objectives, but the lack of overall impacts masks some suggestive evidence of promising effects for some sites and subgroups. (author abstract)

    From 1995 to 2001, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Ford Foundation ran a demonstration of the Quantum Opportunity Program (QOP), mainly an after-school program that also began offering intensive and comprehensive services to at-risk youth when they entered ninth grade. QOP’s goals were to increase rates of high school graduation and enrollment in postsecondary education or training; secondary goals included improving high school grades and achievement test scores and reducing risky behaviors, such as substance abuse, crime, and teen parenting. This final report from Mathematica's random assignment evaluation presents impacts on outcomes measured when most sample members were 22 to 25 years old. Overall, QOP did not achieve its primary or secondary objectives, but the lack of overall impacts masks some suggestive evidence of promising effects for some sites and subgroups. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Hendra, Richard; Dillman, Keri-Nicole; Hamilton, Gayle; Lundquist, Erika; Martinson, Karin; Wavelet, Melissa; Hill, Aaron; Williams, Sonya
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    This report summarizes the final impact results for the national Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project. This project tested, using a random assignment design, the effectiveness of numerous programs intended to promote steady work and career advancement. All the programs targeted current and former welfare recipients and other low-wage workers, most of whom were single mothers. Given that earlier retention and advancement initiatives studied for these groups were largely not effective, ERA sought to examine a variety of programs that states and localities had developed for different populations, to determine whether effective strategies could be identified. In short, nine of the twelve programs examined in this report do not appear to be effective, but three programs increased employment levels, employment stability, and/or earnings, relative to control group levels, after three to four years of follow-up.

    Key Findings:

     - Out of the twelve programs included in the report, three ERA programs produced positive economic impacts; nine did not. All three...

    This report summarizes the final impact results for the national Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project. This project tested, using a random assignment design, the effectiveness of numerous programs intended to promote steady work and career advancement. All the programs targeted current and former welfare recipients and other low-wage workers, most of whom were single mothers. Given that earlier retention and advancement initiatives studied for these groups were largely not effective, ERA sought to examine a variety of programs that states and localities had developed for different populations, to determine whether effective strategies could be identified. In short, nine of the twelve programs examined in this report do not appear to be effective, but three programs increased employment levels, employment stability, and/or earnings, relative to control group levels, after three to four years of follow-up.

    Key Findings:

     - Out of the twelve programs included in the report, three ERA programs produced positive economic impacts; nine did not. All three programs increased employment retention and advancement. Increases in employment retention and earnings were largest and most consistent over time in the Texas ERA program in Corpus Christi (one of three sites that operated this program); the Chicago ERA program; and the Riverside County, California, Post-Assistance Self-Sufficiency (PASS) ERA program. These programs increased annual earnings by between 7 percent and 15 percent relative to control group levels. Each of them served a different target group, which suggests that employment retention and advancement programs can work for a range of populations. However, three-fourths of the ERA programs included in this report did not produce gains in targeted outcomes beyond what control group members were able to attain on their own with the existing services and supports available in the ERA sites.

     - Increases in participation beyond control group levels were not consistent or large, which may have made it difficult for the programs to achieve impacts on employment retention and advancement. Engaging individuals in employment and retention services at levels above what they would have done in the absence of the programs was a consistent challenge. In addition, staff had to spend a lot of time and resources on placing unemployed individuals back into jobs, which made it difficult for them to focus on helping those who were already working to keep their jobs or move up.

    Before the ERA project began, there was not much evidence about the types of programs that could improve employment retention and advancement outcomes for current or former welfare recipients. The ERA evaluation provides valuable insights about the nature of retention and advancement problems and it underscores a number of key implementation challenges that a program would have to address. In addition, it reveals shortcomings in a range of common approaches now in use, while identifying three distinct approaches that seem promising and worthy of further exploration. (author abstract)

     

  • Individual Author: Beimers, David; Fischer, Robert L.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2007

    The passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 by the U.S. Congress required welfare recipients to quickly move into the workforce. Employment services agencies perform a key role in this process by providing welfare recipients with work readiness and job search skills. This article reviews the findings of an empirical study of the experiences and employment outcomes of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients referred to contracted employment services agencies. The study involves a random-sample survey of 151 TANF recipients in a large, urban, north-central county. The findings suggest that generic work readiness activities may be of limited utility unless they include job leads to actual employment opportunities. The article concludes with a discussion of critical issues for practitioners. (author abstract)

    The passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 by the U.S. Congress required welfare recipients to quickly move into the workforce. Employment services agencies perform a key role in this process by providing welfare recipients with work readiness and job search skills. This article reviews the findings of an empirical study of the experiences and employment outcomes of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients referred to contracted employment services agencies. The study involves a random-sample survey of 151 TANF recipients in a large, urban, north-central county. The findings suggest that generic work readiness activities may be of limited utility unless they include job leads to actual employment opportunities. The article concludes with a discussion of critical issues for practitioners. (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)

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