The setting varied by community college program site as follows:
Grand Rapids Community College’s (GRCC) Pathways to Prosperity program: GRCC is the only Pathways Out of Poverty grantee located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and serves residents of Kent County and those from surrounding counties, including the nearby suburbs of Wyoming and Kentwood. At the time of the study, Kent County had a population of close to 610,000 residents, with a population of approximately 192,000 in Grand Rapids. In 2013, the majority of the population was white (82 percent) and nearly 10 percent was black or African American. About 10 percent was of Hispanic or Latino origin. The median household income in 2013 was $52,000, and about 16 percent of residents lived below the federal poverty level (see Appendix G). In 2010, the year the grant was awarded, Kent County’s unemployment rate was 10.1 percent; by 2013, unemployment decreased to 6.3 percent. In addition, the Grand Rapids metropolitan area experienced 10 percent job growth between 2010 and 2013 (see Appendix G). Key industries in the area included advanced manufacturing, life sciences, agribusiness, aerospace and defense, and information technology.
Kern Community College District’s (KCCD’s) Clean Energy Center: KCCD is located in Bakersfield, California, is the largest city in KCCD’s service area, with a population of 364,000 in Bakersfield. KCCD used its Health Care and Other High Growth and Emerging Industries grant to support the establishment of the Clean Energy Center that provided tuition-free, non-credit wind and solar technician training for dislocated, underemployed, and unemployed residents of the region. In the year the grant was awarded, 2010, Bakersfield County’s unemployment rate was at 15.6 percent, and by 2013, unemployment decreased to 11.7 percent. Between 2010 and 2013, the Bakersfield metropolitan area experienced 11 percent job growth.
North Central Texas College (NCTC) Health Matrix Grant scholarship program: NCTC serves an expansive four-county region to the north and northwest of Dallas with five campuses (Gainesville, Corinth, Flower Mound, Graham, and Bowie) and several distinct labor markets. The community college’s Lifelong Learning division offers short-term, non-credit courses in an effort to meet the training needs of local residents and employers. The service area includes Denton County, a suburb of Dallas where the Corinth and Flower Mound campuses are located; rural Cooke County, the home of NCTC’s main campus; and Young (Graham campus), and Montague (Bowie campus) counties.
The sample characteristics varied by community college program site as follows:
Grand Rapids Community College’s (GRCC) Pathways to Prosperity program: "GRCC served a high-poverty area with a relatively disadvantaged population. At the time of random assignment, two-thirds of the sample members were male (68 percent) with an average age of 40. More than half of the sample members were white (56 percent), 36 percent were black, and about 14 percent were Hispanic. Approximately 25 percent reported having a previous conviction. Forty percent of the sample had a high school diploma or less. Many in the sample were not working (76 percent), about a third (34 percent) of the sample had not worked within the last year, and weekly earnings averaged $68.50. At the time of applying to the program, about 66 percent of the sample reported receiving one or more public benefits, 46 percent of the sample reported participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and one in five sample members reported they were receiving Unemployment Insurance. Approximately 25 percent reported having a previous conviction.
Forty percent of the sample had a high school diploma or less. Many in the sample were not working (76 percent), about a third (34 percent) of the sample had not worked within the last year, and weekly earnings averaged $68.50. At the time of applying to the program, about 66 percent of the sample reported receiving one or more public benefits, 46 percent of the sample reported participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and one in five sample members reported they were receiving Unemployment Insurance.
In sum, the GRCC program served a more disadvantaged population than did the other two other grantees (KCCD and NCTC). Participants at GRCC were older and primarily male, about two-thirds received public benefits, and one-third had been previously convicted of a felony."
Kern Community College District’s (KCCD’s) Clean Energy Center: The vast majority of sample members (90 percent) were male, and most were not working at the time of random assignment (83 percent). The Clean Energy Center served a relatively large minority population. Approximately half of the sample reported being of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, and 38 percent spoke a language other than English at home. The average age was 32, and about half had children 18 years old or younger living in their households. About half were unemployed but had worked within the 12 months before random assignment, and 34 percent had been unemployed for more than a year. Weekly earnings (including those who were unemployed at baseline) averaged $53. Almost half of the sample members at KCCD (42 percent) received some type of public benefit, with 22 percent receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and 23 percent receiving Unemployment Insurance (p.74, Appendix G).
North Central Texas College (NCTC) Health Matrix Grant scholarship program: The majority (85 percent) of NCTC sample members were female, half (55 percent) were working at the time of random assignment, and over one-quarter had worked in the year before random assignment. Sample members weekly earnings averaged $159.95. Few sample members were receiving public benefits, with 16 percent receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and 8 percent receiving Unemployment Insurance (Appendix G).
The intervention condition as implemented in the study varied by community college program site in terms of component implemented but, in general, could be described as follows (Exhibit 4.1, p.49):
Selected applicants participated in an eight-week Career Prep course, with basic programs offered in some courses, and occupational training programs in green-related sectors. Program participants who needed to increase their basic skills before starting the training courses could earn an ABE and GED. Participants who complete the prep course received the Michigan Employability Certificate while participants who completed the occupational training received a GRCC certificate and qualified to sit for industry certification exams. In addition to the prep course and training, program participants received a) academic advising and Personal support, b) Financial Assistance, c) Employment Assistance, and d) Connections with Employers. In addition to course, training, and additional supports, the GRCC’s program included a number of supports to encourage participants to complete the program and gain employment (Exhibit 4.1, p.49).
Across community college sites, a control group who could not access the program’s grant-funded services (but could access other similar services available in the community).