This report outlines the results identified through a randomized controlled trial study of Project QUEST to assess its impacts on the earnings of individuals seeking training for healthcare jobs. Project QUEST’s results provide strong evidence to the workforce development and postsecondary education fields of the potential of sector strategies and comprehensive efforts to increase community college completion among low-income adults.

Project QUEST, located in San Antonio, Texas, provides comprehensive support to help low-income adults earn post-secondary credentials and access well-paying jobs in strong sectors of the local economy. This study was conducted as a randomized controlled trial (RCT) study of Project QUEST to assess its impacts on the earnings of individuals seeking training for healthcare jobs. Project QUEST previously reported large, positive impacts on participants’ earnings six years after study enrollment. This report assesses the program’s longer-term impacts on career advancement with an extended study up to nine years after study enrollment, using state administrative data on earnings.

The report provides details associated with implementing the study and numerous tables visually showcasing the findings. The appendix outlines the study design, final sample, and analysis. This brief provides additional insights into how Project QUEST affected participants’ lives over the nine years since study enrollment.

Major Findings & Recommendations

Project QUEST’s results provide strong evidence to the workforce development and post-secondary education fields of the potential of sector strategies and comprehensive efforts to increase community college completion among low-income adults. The study's findings are among the most impressive of any rigorous evaluation of a workforce development program. They are a strong endorsement of the potential value of long-term skills training for low-income job seekers. The randomized controlled trial evaluation found:

  1. Large, statistically-significant earnings impacts over the nine-year follow-up period. The annual earnings gains grew over time, exceeding $5,000 in the ninth year.
  2. Program participants’ earnings grew from an average of $11,722 to $33,644 over the course of the evaluation.
  3. Program graduates moved out of poverty and into the middle class, earning an average of $46,580 in the final year of the study.
  4. Participants over 34 years old and those with children experienced the greatest benefit from participating in Project QUEST.