The study took place at nine sites, including six sites in Maryland (Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Montgomery County, Prince George's County, and the Upper Shore), one site in Connecticut (New Haven), one site in Georgia (Atlanta), and one site in Texas (Austin).
The 2,168 study participants were 71.3% African-American, 15.4% White, 1.2% Native American, 2.5% Asian, 0.5% Native Hawaiian, and 9.1% other. Moreover, 11% of study participants were Hispanic, and 70.5% of study participants were female. Almost two-thirds of study participants (64.9%) were unemployed at baseline, 34.5% were employed, and 0.6% were not in the labor force. On average, study participants were 35.5 years of age.
Almost half of study participants (48.2%) had a high school diploma or GED, 18.0% had less than a high school diploma, 28.8% had some college or an Associate's degree, and 5.0% had a Bachelor's degree or higher.
Accelerating Connections to Employment (ACE) is based in part on Washington State's Integrated Basic Education Skills and Training (I-BEST) model. Like I-BEST, ACE provides integrated basic skills and occupational skills training, with at least 50% of total training hours using a co-teaching model. ACE also engages employers, industry partners, and Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) to assess labor market demands, determine basic skills requirements, and design programs that prepare job seekers for high-demand occupations. ACE also provides a career navigator to students. Initially, the ACE career navigator was involved in all aspects of recruitment, onboarding, job readiness training, and job placement. Later, sites added a job developer position, which afforded career navigators more time to focus on forming strong relationships with participants and guiding them through the training program.
Control group members had access to alternative services at the WIB. As with any non-ACE WIB customer, control group members generally had to navigate these alternative services on their own.
Support for implementation
The ACE model is supported by a the WIB-community college partnership. Technical assistance was provided by program partners, most especially The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Jobs for the Future (JFF) and The National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP) supported implementation in Baltimore County.