This is a study of Capital IDEA, which is a sectoral workforce development program implemented in Travis County, Texas, and is based on the Project QUEST model. Participants attend training at LifeWorks workforce development sites, including Austin Community College's (ACC) Highland Campus (95% of students) and Temple College (5% of students).
Eligible applicants had to be at least 18 years old, have a High School Equivalency Certification (HSEC) or high school diploma, lack an associate's or higher degree, meet reading and math skills requirements, and report a household income at or below 200% of the federal poverty threshold. Of the Capital IDEA participants in the study, 56% were White, 24% were Black, and 5% were Asian. Forty-one percent of the sample were Hispanic, and 70% were female. Nearly half (49%) had attended some college, and over one-quarter (27%) were receiving public benefits. The program recruited low-wage workers and encouraged them to continue working part-time throughout the program. No information was provided on the demographic characteristics of the comparison group.
Capital IDEA is a sectoral workforce development program that offers non-traditional students with the opportunity to pursue training in high-wage, high-demand occupations in health care, information technology, and other leading industries such as professional trades or applied technologies. The program coordinates and collaborates with Austin-area community colleges and employers to help prepare participants for jobs with good wages and benefits. Applicants who are unlikely to pass a college admissions assessment can enroll in Capital IDEA's College Prep Academy, an intensive 6.5 hour per day, five-day a week, 12-week program designed to build math, reading, writing, and study skills. Most participants required only one semester of the College Prep Academy (10% of participants received an additional semester of support). The program assigns a career navigator to each student. Career navigators meet students at the beginning of each semester, then communicate and work with students throughout the semester. Group support sessions are also offered, with topics for these sessions driven by student needs and their ability to navigate the college experience. The career navigators also communicate over telephone, text message, email, and video conferencing to help guide students through the higher education system. The program encourages students to work part-time throughout the program. The program covers tuition, fees, books, uniforms, tools, training software, and other course-specific required items. In addition, Capital IDEA provides support with basic office supplies, backpacks, and eye examinations and eyeglasses, and offers emergency financial assistance for students who need help with utility bills, rent, and mortgage payments, and childcare. There is also free Cap Metro public transportation for students enrolled at ACC.
Comparison group members received employment assistance services available to the community through the state’s WorkInTexas (WIT) program and local Workforce Investment Act-funded Workforce Solutions CareerCenters. Data for the comparison group were drawn from The Workforce Information Systems of Texas (TWIST) records.
Support for implementation
No additional implementation details are provided in the study.