Too many students enter college underprepared, drop out, and never earn a credential that would give them access to stable, well-paid jobs. Part of our “Looking Forward” series, this policy memo describes some promising college readiness programs that can provide students with the skills they need to successfully complete college, but cautions that more evidence is needed.
While we know how to help low-income individuals prepare for and find work, too many end up in low-wage jobs and never advance up the career ladder. This policy memo describes what we’ve learned about advancement strategies — both those that show promise and those that don’t work.
Implementation and Final Impacts of the Work Advancement and Support Center (WASC) Demonstration
WASC sought to increase the incomes of low-wage workers by stabilizing employment, improving skills, increasing earnings, and easing access to work supports. The program increased workers’ receipt of work supports. In the two sites that eased access to funds for training, WASC increased the receipt of certificates and licenses and increased earnings in the third year.
Bridging the Gap between High School and College in Tacoma, Washington
Getting Ready for Success provides low-income students in Tacoma with academic and social supports and monetary incentives during the late high school and early college years to increase their motivation and ability to succeed in college.
An Impact Study of Eight Developmental Summer Bridge Programs in Texas
Eight developmental summer bridge programs offered accelerated and focused learning opportunities for entering college students with low skills in Texas. An evaluation shows positive impacts on introductory college-level course completion in math and writing, which faded by the end of two years. The programs had no impact on persistence or the average number of credits students attempted or earned.
Lessons from the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) Project
Many recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other low-income individuals find or keep jobs for a while, but far fewer remain steadily employed and advance in the labor market. This report describes results and draws lessons from rigorous evaluations of 12 programs seeking to improve employment retention and advancement among low-wage workers.
An Implementation and Early Impacts Study of Eight Texas Developmental Summer Bridge Programs
For entering college students with low basic skills, eight intensive summer programs provided accelerated instruction in math, reading, and/or writing; academic support; a “college knowledge” component; and the opportunity to receive a $400 stipend. Early results suggest that participants were more likely to pass entry-level college courses in math and writing.
Final Evidence from the UK Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) Demonstration
The British ERA program’s distinctive combination of post-employment advisory support and financial incentives was designed to help low-income individuals who entered work sustain employment and advance in the labor market. It produced short-term earnings gains for two target groups but sustained increases in employment and earnings and positive benefit-cost results for the third target group, long-term unemployed individuals.
Lessons from Research and Practice
This 12-page practitioner brief offers lessons for policy and practice from MDRC-conducted random assignment studies of five programs that provided earnings supplements to low-income parents to encourage employment and increase the payoff of low-wage work.
Implementing the Fort Worth Work Advancement and Support Center Program
This report examines the design and operation of a program called Project Earn, in Fort Worth, Texas, one of four sites in MDRC’s Work Advancement and Support Center demonstration. The program combined two types of income-building services for low-wage workers — skills training and connection to work supports, such as food stamps, child care subsidies, and tax credits — and delivered them in workplaces in collaboration with employers.