The Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD), in partnership with REDF (a national non-profit), used its Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF) grant to design, implement, and test an enhanced transitional employment program – LA: RISE. The program brought together and provided supports to a network of partners who delivered training and assessment services, support services, and employment placement services to individuals facing barriers to employment.

LA: RISE provided workforce services to opportunity youth, individuals with a criminal record, and individuals with unstable housing. Funded initially by a $6 million WIF grant, LA:RISE brought together private social enterprise organizations (including REDF) and public workforce development system partners along with personal support providers and employer partners to deliver transitional employment services. These services were paired with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Adult and Youth program services to serve the program’s three priority populations. The pilot phase of LA:RISE operated from 2015 to 2018 and served 508 individuals. EWDD and REDF also operated four subsequent iterations of the program and are helping to expand the program to Los Angeles County.

To evaluate this pilot phase of LA:RISE, EWDD contracted with a third-party research firm to conduct an implementation study, impact study, and cost study. The researchers used data from project documents, interviews with key stakeholders, observations, administrative data, and cost data.

(The report is 168 pages including attachments.)

Major Findings & Recommendations

A sample of findings for each study follows organized by evaluation type:

To what extent were the program designers able to increase and strengthen connections between publicly and privately funded programs providing transitional employment and other employment-related and supportive services to populations with high barriers to employment?

  • The program created important systems-level changes in the service-delivery community, bringing together partner organizations that had either not worked together at all or not previously coordinated services across different funding streams.

How did program participation affect employment outcomes such as employment and average earnings?

  • The impact analysis showed that the program had a positive impact on employment during the quarter of random assignment and the two quarters following it, but at no other point in a three-year follow-up period

How did partners spend WIF grant funds for the pilot program at both the system level and at the individual partner level? How did WIF grant expenditures and costs per participant vary by partner organization and partner type?

  • The evaluators found that it cost, on average, $9,090 to serve each program participant with WIF grant dollars. However, these costs included the costs associated with the program’s initial planning period and the technical assistance provided to build and grow program partnerships. After removing these costs, the cost per participant was reduced to $7,480.
  • How much did it cost to achieve the program’s impacts on a per unit basis? How cost-effective was the program’s pilot phase compared with the WIOA Adult and Youth programs that control group members accessed?
  • The evaluators found that it cost the program between $363,408 and $562,881 to increase participants’ rate of employment by one percentage point (on a temporary basis) relative to that of participants in the closest alternative, the WIOA Adult and Youth programs.

The evaluators offered three recommendations for implementing similar projects in the future:

  • Consider modifying participant milestones or program goals for partners serving only opportunity youth to better reflect their emphasis on education and training.
  • Provide services to address criminogenic needs and provide homelessness-related services to improve outcomes.
  • Expand the network of employers to help place program participants in good jobs that can lead to permanent employment.