Skip to main content

Final report for the impact evaluation of the Los Angeles Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise (LA:RISE) pilot program (Geckeler et al. 2019)

Absence of conflict of interest. 

Citation

Geckeler, C., Folsom, L., Hebbar, L., Mallett, J., Paprocki, A., & Sarver, M. (2019). Final report for the impact evaluation of the Los Angeles Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise (LA:RISE) pilot program. Oakland, CA: Social Policy Research Associates.

Highlights

  • The study's objective was to examine the impact of Los Angeles Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise (LA:RISE) on employment and earnings.
  • The study was a randomized controlled trial with participants assigned to either the LA:RISE group or a control group. The study team collected baseline demographic information from participants and outcome data on employment, criminal justice involvement, and housing from administrative state agencies and authors used statistical models to compare differences in outcomes between the program and control groups.
  • The study found that LA:RISE participants were significantly more likely to be employed in the first three quarters after random assignment compared to control participants.
  • This study receives a high evidence rating. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to Los Angeles Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise (LA:RISE), and not to other factors.

Intervention Examined

Los Angeles Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise (LA:RISE)

Features of the Intervention

In 2014, the Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD) partnered with a non-profit organization (REDF) to create a transitional employment program called the Los Angeles Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise (LA:RISE). LA:RISE was implemented by six social enterprises (Coalition for Responsible Community Development, Downtown Women's Center, Los Angeles Conservation Corps, Chrysalis Enterprise, Goodwill of Southern California, and Homeboy Industries) in partnership with workforce development systems, personal support providers, and local employers. The LA:RISE program partners provided services to clients including training and assessment, case management and support services, and employment placement services. The program also provided at least 300 hours of subsidized transitional employment at a social enterprise or workforce development system partner, as well as on-the-job or specialized training, depending on the specific needs of the transitional job placement. Program participants also received incentive payments when they demonstrated that they were employed. The LA:RISE program provided transitional employment and services to three priority populations: youth, individuals with a criminal record, and those with unstable housing.

Features of the Study

The study was a randomized controlled trial. Participants were recruited through the six social enterprise partners from September 2015 through April 2017 and randomly assigned to either receive the LA:RISE program services (treatment) or referrals to receive other services in the community (control). Eligible participants had to be at least 18 years of age, unemployed or underemployed with an interest in full employment, and have at least one of three major barriers to employment (criminal history, housing instability, or status as a disconnected youth). The study sample included 963 participants, with 481 participants assigned to the treatment group and 482 assigned to the control group. Participants in the treatment group were provided with LA:RISE services including case management, training assistance, and transitional employment services. Treatment participants were also co-enrolled in Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) services. These services varied but included soft-skills training, work-readiness training and assessments, supportive services, case management, education, and permanent job search and placement services. Participants in the control group were able to access other services in the community and were ineligible for LA:RISE program services for two years. The study team collected baseline demographic information from participants and outcome data from administrative state agencies for up to three years after random assignment. Using statistical models, the authors compared differences in earnings and employment outcomes between the treatment and control groups.

Findings

Earnings and wages

  • The study found that there were no significant differences in quarterly earnings between the treatment and control participants over the three-year follow-up period.

Employment

  • The study found that treatment participants were significantly more likely to be employed during the first three quarters after random assignment but not in the subsequent quarters over a three-year period.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The study authors noted that the programs’ impacts may be understated since participants in the control group may have received services, including transitional employment, at partner organizations during the study. Additionally, the study authors estimated multiple related impacts on outcomes related to employment and earnings. Performing multiple statistical tests on related outcomes makes it more likely that some impacts will be found statistically significant purely by chance and not because they reflect program effectiveness. The authors did not perform statistical adjustments to account for the multiple tests, so the number of statistically significant findings in these domains is likely to be overstated.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to Los Angeles Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise (LA:RISE), and not to other factors.

Reviewed by CLEAR

July 2022

Topic Area