Absence of conflict of interest
This study was conducted by staff from Abt Associates, which administers CLEAR. The review of this study was conducted by ICF Incorporated, which also administers CLEAR and is trained in applying the CLEAR causal evidence guidelines.
- The study's objective was to examine the impact of Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA) on education outcomes. The authors investigated similar research questions for other programs, the profiles of which can be found here.
- The study used a randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of VIDA on education outcomes. Using participant surveys and administrative records, the authors conducted a statistical model to compare the outcomes of the treatment and control group members.
- The study found that VIDA participants were significantly more likely than control participants to have earned one or more credential(s) and earned more credits.
- This study receives a high evidence rating. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA), and not to other factors.
Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA)
Features of the Intervention
The Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA) was established in 1995 by the local business community and faith-based leaders in the Lower Rio Grande Valley region of Texas. VIDA analyzed local labor markets to identify the occupations that were in high-demand in the region. VIDA supported participants in obtaining an Associate degree in the high-demand fields. The program offered a 16-week, accelerated basic skills college preparatory academy for participants assessed to be at tenth or eleventh grade levels. Participants were required to maintain full-time college enrollment and engage in ongoing, weekly, counseling. The program offered financial support for both academic and non-academic expenses (e.g., transportation assistance). The program served individuals who had low incomes, were unemployed/underemployed, or received public assistance.
Features of the Study
This study was part of the multi-program Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) evaluation. The PACE evaluation was intended to address the gap in research on the effectiveness of career pathways programs, or programs providing postsecondary training or education in growing employment sectors. This profile focuses on the VIDA program.
The study used a randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of VIDA. Of the 958 participants who enrolled in the study between November 2011 and September 2014, 478 were randomly assigned to VIDA (treatment group) and 480 were assigned to the control group. Control group members could not receive VIDA services but could choose to participate in other employment services within the community. The study sample was 71 percent female and 96 percent Hispanic/Latino. Just over a quarter of the sample (26 percent) had a high school degree or equivalency credential without further education/training. The data for the credits earned and credential receipt outcomes were drawn from the PACE 18-month survey and administrative records. The authors used a statistical model to compare the outcomes of the treatment group with those of the control group.
Education and skills gains
- The study found that 62 percent of treatment group participants earned one or more credential(s), compared to 56 percent of control participants. This difference was statistically significant.
- The study also found that treatment group participants earned an average of 33.1 credits by follow-up, compared to an average of 27.5 credits for comparison participants. This difference was statistically significant.