Evaluation of Travis County Investments in Workforce Development: 2021 Update
Authors: Cynthia Juniper, Patty Rodriguez, and Heath Prince
Date: February 2022
Publication Type: Report, 170pp.
This evaluation examines outcomes and impacts for participants exiting the Travis County-funded community-based workforce programs between FY 2016 and FY 2020. To understand the impact of these services, the county has contracted with the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources (RMC), an organized research unit in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas, to conduct a longitudinal evaluation of its investments. This evaluation report presents findings and analyses of programs funded during a five-year on-going evaluation (FY 2016–FY 2020).
RMC’s Director and Research Scientist Dr. Heath Prince co-authored an article outlining interventions to prevent occupational heat stress in laborers during physically demanding work in high environmental temperatures. The article titled “Workplace Intervention for Heat Stress: Essential Elements of Design, Implementation, and Assessment” was published on March 22, 2022, in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJEPH) by MDPI Open Access Journals and can be found here.
Heat stress is associated with numerous health effects that potentially harm workers, especially in a warming world. This investigation occurred in a setting where laborers are confronted with occupational heat stress from physically demanding work in high environmental temperatures. Collaboration with a major Nicaraguan sugarcane producer offered the opportunity to study interventions to prevent occupational heat-stress-related kidney disease. Two aims for this study of a rest-shade-water intervention program were: (1) describe the evolving intervention, summarize findings that motivated proposed improvements, assess impact of those improvements, and identify challenges to successful implementation and (2) extract primary lessons learned about intervention research that have both general relevance to investigations of work-related disease prevention and specific relevance to this setting. The learning curve for the various stakeholders as well as the barriers to success demonstrate that effectiveness of an intervention cannot be adequately assessed without considerations of implementation. Designing, effectively implementing, and assessing both health impacts and implementation quality is a resource-intensive endeavor requiring a transdisciplinary approach. Both general and specific lessons learned are presented for decisions on study design and study elements, implementation assessment, and management engagement in understanding how productivity and health can be successfully balanced and for building effective communication between investigators and all levels of management.
|Principal Investigator:||Heath J. Prince, PhD
|Sponsor:||Texas Workforce Commission
|Project Duration:||December 2021 – November 2024
|Description:||The Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources has partnered with the Texas Workforce Commission to conduct an evaluation of the Building Construction Trades Grantees Program, including assessing participant outcomes, program implementation, and participant and employer feedback on the programs.|
Evaluation of Literacy Coalition of Central Texas Texas Family Literacy AmeriCorps (TFLA) Initiative
Author: Cynthia Juniper
Date: December 2021
Publication Type: Report, 56pp.
Literacy Coalition of Central Texas (LCCT) received funding from the OneStar Foundation to implement the Texas Family Literacy AmeriCorps (TFLA) program. Each partner site works with two LCCT AmeriCorps members who are trained to implement the TFLA program in the context of each site’s existing literacy services. Program participants meet with AmeriCorps members to receive one-on-one job coaching services. Students interested in advanced career development instruction receive job readiness training and have an opportunity to enter occupational skills training. Participants work with an AmeriCorps job coach to complete an Individual Learning Plan to further outline their educational and career goals. The TFLA program has the potential to address inequities in employment and earnings advancement by coordinating education, training, and support services for low-wage workers to advance into in-demand, middle-skill jobs to increase their wages and economic security.
Literacy Coalition of Central Texas contracted with the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources (RMC), a research institute of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, to conduct an evaluation including implementation, outcomes and impacts analysis components. The purpose of the study is to present information that can assist LCCT to better understand the components of effective efforts to advance the careers of low-income workers.
Evaluation of Austin Community College’s Strengthening Institutions Program Grant: Annual Outcomes and Impacts Report
Authors: Ashweeta Patnaik, Greg Cumpton, and Cynthia Juniper
Date: September 2021
Publication Type: Report, 35pp.
Austin Community College (ACC) received a $1.7 million Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) grant from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) in 2015 to develop programs to help students understand smart money management and college financing. The grant, “Achieving Student Success through Financial Aid Education and Financial Literacy,” funded initiatives to teach students about money management and to help the ACC community understand the connection between students’ academic and financial goals. The target population for ACC’s initiatives for the SIP grant was all first-time in college (FTIC) credential-seeking students.
Through this grant, ACC established the Student Money Management Office (SMMO) whose mission is to support Austin Community College student success by providing accessible and relevant money management education, enabling students to make informed financial decisions. SMMO’s activities included text message alerts about financial aid requirements and deadlines, financial literacy workshops for students, professional development for faculty and staff, outreach and awareness campaigns for students, creation of an online presence using various social media platforms, and enhancements to the online Degree Map planning tool to provide personalized real-time financial aid information.
ACC hoped to demonstrate that the activities of SMMO were linked to improvements in measures of student success such as retention rates, credential attainment rates, and cohort loan default rates. ACC partnered with the Ray Marshall Center (RMC), an organized research unit in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas, to perform an impact evaluation of the effectiveness of SMMO’s activities on the student outcome measures of interest, as well as an implementation evaluation.
This report examines the outcomes and impacts of grant-funded activities throughout the five-year grant period.
Evaluation of Austin Community College’s Strengthening Institutions Program Grant: Implementation Evaluation Report Through July 2021
Authors: Cynthia Juniper, Greg Cumpton, and Ashweeta Patnaik
Date: September 2021
Publication Type: Report, 20pp.
ACC partnered with the Ray Marshall Center (RMC), an organized research unit in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas, to conduct an implementation evaluation and an outcome and impact analysis of the SMMO program.
The SMMO implementation study documents the evolution of the program from the initial development and implementation starting in July 2016, continuing throughout the duration of the program, examining program modifications to understand how and why changes were made. The implementation evaluation is an essential source of information for interpreting the outcomes and impacts of student participation in the grant supported programs. Furthermore, the documentation of the program’s evolution over time may help to inform the development of other community college student money management efforts.
This final report examines the implementation and evolution of the program throughout the grant period. This report provides a summary overview of program initiatives, describes data-driven project modifications, and project refinements in response to the needs of the participants being served and to improve program efficiency. This report presents findings related to each of the following research questions:
The implementation study drew on multiple sources of data to answer these questions: the ACC and SMMO websites, interviews with program leadership, staff, and Peer Money Mentor focus group responses, SMMO social media platforms, and various SMMO program reports and documents.
RMC’s Senior Research Scientist Dr. Chris King co-authored a chapter with Burt Barnow in a new book The Governance of Labour Administration: Reforms, Innovations and Challenges, edited by Jason Heyes and Ludek Rychly of the University of Sheffield Management School and available in print or open access through Edward Elgar Publishing. The book focuses on public administration activities in the field of national labour policy, providing detailed analyses of labour administration reforms, innovations, and challenges in different countries (case studies from Brazil, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the United States are detailed). The chapter co-authored by King and Barnow describes developments in U.S. policies (see Chapter 11, “Recent developments in U.S. labor policies and programs”).
The Ray Marshall Center is pleased to announce support from JPMorgan Chase to study the pathways taken by Opportunity Youth in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. This $750,000, five-year grant represents one of the largest efforts undertaken in Texas to date to study the systems that serve, and the trajectories taken by, disconnected young adults (between the ages of 18 and 24 who are neither enrolled in school nor working) after participation in a youth-serving program. The study aims to determine the size of the OY population in each of these cities, as well as measure programmatic impact in terms of employment and/or enrollment in postsecondary education. In addition to providing a clearer picture of the OY landscape, it is our expectation that the study findings will inform OY policy for the state.
Research Study of Austin Community College’s Rainy Day Savings Program
Date: August 2021
Publication Type: Report, 28pp.
With funding support from Trellis Foundation, the Student Money Management Office (SMMO) at Austin Community College (ACC) is implementing the Rainy Day Savings Program, modeled after the success of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). In the Rainy Day Savings program, students earn up to $100 in cash incentives while working to amass at least $500 in savings. ACC has partnered with the Ray Marshall Center (RMC) at The University of Texas at Austin to study the effectiveness of the Rainy Day Savings program.
In this interim report, RMC researchers examined program participation patterns and early program outcomes. A comparison of pre- and post- financial well-being measures suggests that by helping build up participants’ savings and financial cushions, the program helped increase participants’ perceived financial well-being. The level of participation and the amount saved varied considerably among active program participants. Program participation (including incentive take-up) and outcomes were also disaggregated by participant characteristics to identify equity gaps. Results suggest that women, underrepresented minorities, and students with children likely need additional prompts and assistance to complete the tasks necessary to earn the incentives. In the next report, researchers will use administrative data from ACC to study the program’s impact on student success outcomes such as retention.