Escalating Gains: The Elements of Project QUEST’s Success
Anne Roder and Mark Elliott
Since 1992 Project QUEST’s mission has been to help low-income San Antonio residents access well-paying careers in growing sectors of the local economy. Key findings from the full report on our randomized-controlled trial evaluation of Project QUEST include:
- QUEST had large, statistically significant earnings impacts that increased over time. QUEST participants earned $5,080 more than control group members in the sixth year after study enrollment.
- QUEST participants were significantly more likely than control group members to earn a postsecondary credential and to work in the targeted health-care field.
- QUEST recruited individuals for the study who were not enrolled in college, 63 percent of whom needed remedial math and/or reading instruction before they could enroll in their occupational programs—a group that typically has low degree completion rates.
- Impacts were greatest among participants ages 25 and older and those who had a GED rather than a high school diploma—non-traditional college students who were unlikely to navigate their way through postsecondary training to a good job on their own.
- QUEST graduates credited their success to both the program’s financial assistance and comprehensive support from a counselor. The financial support made it feasible for them to attend college while the counselors helped them persist when they faced academic, family, and financial difficulties.
The findings strengthen the evidence base on the effectiveness of sector-based training programs and comprehensive strategies to support low-income, low-skilled adults’ attainment of postsecondary credentials.