Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
- This strategy can help address educational disparities and provide assistance to unemployed workers. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve these outcomes are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
- Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
- Seeks to improve employment and earnings through sector-based education and training for high-demand jobs
- Provides tuition subsidies and support services to participants while they are enrolled in 2-year associate’s degree and one-year certificate programs at local community colleges for high-demand occupations
- Training programs currently exist for health services, business systems and IT, and maintenance and repair professions
Evidence and impacts
Project QUEST is not yet in any of the major clearinghouses, but has demonstrated positive results in an independent, high-quality evaluation conducted by the Economic Mobility Corporation
A single study with a rigorous design provides some evidence for Project Quest as an effective strategy to increasing earnings, employment, and postsecondary credential attainment.
The 2021 impact report on a randomized control trial found that in the 11 years following enrollment:
- Participants earned an average of $31,395 more than control group members
- Participants 35 years and older earned an average of $92,053 more than a control group
- Participants increased earnings by an average of $5,159 in years 9-11 after enrollment
- Participants' employment rate increased by 10 percentage points
- Enrollment increased postsecondary credential attainment by 13 percentage points and more than doubled the attainment of a health-care credential
Best practices in implementation
- Note: This content is under review.
- Partner with local business leaders, large employers, city agencies, and any other key labor market actors to identify strong sectors of the local economy that will likely yield in-demand employment opportunities.
- Tailor training and additional offerings closely to the local economy’s in-demand labor needs; consider the program the future supplier to fill those needs.
- Provide weekly meetings that prioritize life skills like time management, study skills, financial planning, transition to employment, and conflict resolution.
- Offer a broad suite of services around the job placement process, such as workshops on resume writing, professional interviewing, and securing referrals.
- Remove barriers to participation that can be remedied with support services, such as reimbursement programs for childcare, transportation, and utilities.