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Pathways to Financial Resilience: 36-Month Impacts of the Grameen America Program

March 2, 2022

This report summarizes 36-month findings from the evaluation of the Grameen America program, a microfinance institution that provides loans to women with low incomes in the United States who are seeking to start or expand a small business. Its objective is to reduce poverty through the provision of small loans, financial training, and peer support.The Grameen America evaluation used a randomized controlled trial design to explore the mechanisms of program operations and whether the model leads to improved outcomes for borrowers. The evaluation includes an implementation analysis, which examines how the program operates and the experiences of borrowers and program staff, and an impact analysis, which assesses the program's effects on participants' outcomes, including the study's two primary outcomes: overall net income and types of material hardship. Other outcomes include wage-based work and self-employment, wage-based and self-employment earnings and other income, credit scores, savings, assets and remittances, social support, and financial well-being. The implementation analysis includes outcomes from program-tracking data, as well as findings from interviews with borrowers and Grameen America staff, focus groups, and researchers' observations of the program. The impact findings in this report are based on study participants' responses to a 36-month survey and credit report data from a major credit reporting agency. The Grameen America evaluation was funded by the Robin Hood Foundation.

Encouraging Evidence on a Sector-Focused Advancement Strategy: Two-Year Impacts from the WorkAdvance Demonstration

June 28, 2016

This report summarizes the two-year findings of a rigorous random assignment evaluation of the WorkAdvance model, a sectoral training and advancement initiative. Launched in 2011, WorkAd-vance goes beyond the previous generation of employment programs by introducing demand-driven skills training and a focus on jobs that have career pathways. The model is heavily influenced by the positive findings from the Sectoral Employment Impact Study (SEIS) completed in 2010. A major component of the WorkAdvance model, in common with the programs studied in the SEIS, is formal training offering industry-recognized certifications, reflecting the hypothesis that skills acquisition is necessary for advancement. The model also requires providers to be far more employer-facing than traditional training programs, taking into account multiple employers' changing skill requirements, employee assessment practices, and personnel needs. This report presents the imple-mentation, cost, participation, and two-year economic impacts of WorkAdvance. The economic results are based on unemployment insurance earnings records and a second-year follow-up survey.The WorkAdvance program operations and evaluation are funded through the federal Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a public-private partnership administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. This SIF project is led by the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City and the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity in collaboration with MDRC.Key Findings*All providers translated the WorkAdvance model into a set of concrete services, but it took time— more than a year for some components and providers -- and a substantial amount of tech-nical assistance and support. As a result, at some sites, later study enrollees were more likely than earlier ones to experience a fully implemented and "mature" WorkAdvance program.*Overall, WorkAdvance resulted in very large increases in participation in every category of services, as well as in training completion and credential acquisition, compared with what would have happened in the absence of the program. Expenditures for the operation of WorkAdvance fell between $5,200 and $6,700 per participant at the four providers delivering the program.*WorkAdvance providers increased earnings, with variation in results that closely matched the providers' experience in running sector-based programs and the extent to which the services they offered were demand driven. The most experienced sectoral provider, Per Scholas, had large and consistent impacts on both primary and secondary outcomes. Madison Strategies Group and Towards Employment, providers new to sectoral training, had promising but less consistent results that grew stronger for later enrollees. One provider, St. Nicks Alliance, did not produce positive impacts. The results did not differ dramatically across subgroups, though en-couragingly, WorkAdvance was able to increase earnings among the long-term unemployed.The evaluation as a whole provides important information for workforce development providers interested in pursuing a sector strategy. The analysis considers the role played by providers' sector-specific training and preparation and the role played by the nature of the sectors themselves. Future priorities that emerge from the results are (1) understanding how to help the more disadvantaged access the programs and (2) learning how to build service capacity, given how complex the model is to run.

Employment Retention and Advancement Project: Results from the Post-Assistance Self-Sufficiency (PASS) Program in Riverside, California

May 1, 2007

A random assignment evaluation of a voluntary postemployment program for workers who recently left welfare shows participants had increased employment and earnings during the first two years of follow-up.