Labor Market Intermediary Institutions

West and Southwest IAF organizations are pioneering workforce initiatives that bring working people out of poverty level jobs and into living wage careers. By building the political will for investment of public monies in long-term training, local organizations have successfully brought together employers, community college officials and community leaders to create long-term workforce development and education programs for actual jobs in high demand occupations.

Inspired by the success of the oldest of these labor market intermediaries, Project Quest in San Antonio, leaders established an additional nine projects in the West and Southwest US: Capital IDEA in Austin, Texas; Project ARRIBA in El Paso, Texas; VIDA in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas; JobPath in Tucson, Arizona; NOVA in Monroe, Louisiana, Skills-Quest in Dallas, Texas; Capital IDEA-Houston in Houston, Texas; Project IOWA; and Arizona Career Pathways in Phoenix. In 2014, DuPage County United launched its own labor market intermediary, Career Connect Metro West, just outside Chicago.

Collectively, these institutions have trained and placed over 16,000 adults in living wage jobs which pay, on average, $40,000 annually plus benefits and a career path. This number is expected to grow as the West / Southwest IAF expands into Phoenix, Des Moines, Albuquerque and DuPage.


WORKFORCE PROJECTS

Project Quest
Capital IDEA
Project ARRIBA
VIDA
JobPath
NOVA
Capital IDEA-Houston
Skill-Quest
Project IOWA
Arizona Career Pathways
Career Connect Metro West


PRESS

Report: ARRIBA Program That Helps Low-Income Students Through Nursing School Has $893 Million Impact, El Paso Inc.(2021) [pdf]

Job Training Can Change Lives.  See How San Antonio Does ItNew York Times (2019) [pdf]

San Antonio Program Moves Low-Skilled Workers Into Middle-ClassHouston Chronicle (2019) 

Texas Job Program Shows Unusually Strong, Lasting Gains, Study Finds, Austin American Statesman [pdf] (2017)

A Capital Idea: We Can’t Think of a More Valuable Initiative, Houston Chronicle (2014)

A Look at How Project ARRIBA Helps Individuals and the Community, KVIA (2014)

Job Training Program Adjusts Amid Funding Cuts, Texas Tribune (2013)

Who Can Fix the “Middle-Skills” Gap?, Harvard Business Review (2012) [pdf]

School for Success, The American Prospect (2012)

Project Quest a Worthwhile Investment for City, San Antonio Express News (2012)

Workforce Training of Parents Boost Children’s Aspirations
Austin American Statesman (2011)

Tucson Tech: $200,000 Grant to Help Train 50 Adults
Arizona Daily Star (2011)

VIDA Success Stories Multiply; Job-Training Organization Moves Forward
Brownsville Herald (2009)

Building a Career Where There Was Just a Dead End
Washington Post (2007)


INDEPENDENT STUDIES

The Economic Impact of Project Arriba on El Paso County, TexasHunt Institute for Global Competitiveness, University of Texas at El Paso (2021)

Nine Year Gains: Project QUEST's Continuing ImpactEconomic Mobility Corporation (2019)

VIDA: Implementation and Early Impact Report, Pathways for Advancing Careers in Education (2018)

Escalating Gains: The Elements of Project QUEST's SuccessEconomic Mobility Corporation (2018)

Escalating Gains: Project QUEST’S Sectoral Strategy Pays Off, Economic Mobility Corporation (2017) 

Economic Impact of Project ARRIBA on El Paso, Texas
UT El Paso, Institute for Policy and Economic Development (2015)

Economic Impacts of the JobPath Program on Pima County
Applied Economics (2014)

Return on Investment from Capital IDEA: Research Brief, Full Report, 2014 Update
UT Austin, Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources (2011)

VIDA: Economic Impact Study
UT Pan American, Data & Information Systems Center (2010)

Project Quest: A Case Study of a Sectoral Employment Development Approach, Aspen Institute (2001) [pdf]

Capital IDEA: Generational Impact Study (2011)

Beyond Graduation: Promoting Post-Program Engagement & Advancement
Aspen Institute (2009); On the Road to Success video (2010)


ADDITIONAL MATERIALS

Further reading on workforce development strategies

IEF Labor Market Programs, a memo by MIT economist Paul Osterman (2002)  

Video about the establishment of Project Quest in San Antonio (1994)

Story about the establishment of Project Quest in San Antonio by COPS/Metro


LOCAL UPDATES


Executive Director Michelle Paul explains how Capital IDEA Houston transforms lives.  Capital IDEA Houston is a long-term job training program established by TMO.  


Arizona Interfaith Network (AIN) leveraged a $5 million investment from the state of Arizona to help hundreds of families step into economic security with the expansion of long-term workforce development initiatives JobPath in Pima County and Arizona Career Pathways in Maricopa County.

AIN leaders worked with state legislators to direct $5 million from Arizona’s federal Coronavirus relief funding to expand the program in the wake of the pandemic.  This investment will ensure that low-income families can access high-quality education and training for lower earning families.

The completion rate for Arizona Career Pathways is 90%, the job placement rate is 85%, and the average starting wage is $24.50 per hour.

JobPath is an initiative of Pima County Interfaith and Arizona Career Pathways is a Valley Interfaith Project initiative.


[Excerpt]

Project ARRIBA has been quietly working with El Paso leaders to help hundreds of mostly Hispanic students from poor families through nursing school and drastically changing their lives since 1998. They’ve been at it so quietly they barely get noticed publicly anymore. But they have been busy.

The Hunt Institute of Global Competitiveness at the University of Texas at El Paso released a study last month that found for every dollar invested in Project ARRIBA, $28 is returned to the region. ARRIBA has added $893 million to El Paso’s economy in earnings by the program’s graduates since 1995, the report says.

The nonprofit recently received a $250,000 Bank of America grant for regional workforce development to address “a shortage of healthcare workers at a critical time.”  The El Paso region has long suffered an acute shortage of nurses, but since the novel coronavirus made its debut, the shortage has worsened. And hospitals in El Paso, like many others across America, are short on registered nurses by the hundreds.

....

El Paso businessman Woody Hunt endorsed the organization in the announcement, saying,

“Project ARRIBA has become a crucial community partner that is helping build the next generation of healthcare workers who come from and understand the unique needs of our region...."

ARRIBA sprang from a social justice organization that El Paso’s Catholic Diocese formed in 1985 known as the El Paso Interreligious Sponsoring Organization, or EPISO. It’s now called EPISO-Border Interfaith because churches of other denominations have joined.

[In photo: Roman Ortiz, Executive Director of ARRIBA.  Photo Credit: David Crowder, El Paso Inc.]

Report: ARRIBA Program That Helps Low-Income Students Through Nursing School Has $893 Million ImpactEl Paso Inc. [pdf]

 


[Excerpt]

....The JobPath program was founded by the Pima County Interfaith Council in 1998. Now its own, separate nonprofit entity, the program continues to provide supplementary funds to Pima County students.

But after 23 years, the workforce development program is bolstering its operations — with the help of $1.75 million in funding from the county — to reach hundreds of more students this year.

The county allocated JobPath $1 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11 to facilitate economic recovery from the pandemic. The other $750,000 was budgeted from the county’s general fund.

Including private and public donations and $185,000 from the city of Tucson, JobPath is operating under its largest budget ever this year at $2.3 million. Last fiscal year, the program enrolled 378 students. This year, the goal is to provide assistance to 670 students while hiring more staff to get the job done.

[Photo Credit: Kelly Presnell, Arizona Daily Star]

Nonprofit JobPath to Expand its Reach with $1M in American Rescue Plan FundsArizona Daily Star [pdf]

 


Back in 1992, she was an organizer for COPS/Metro Alliance when the powerful community organization designed and persuaded the City to financially back Project Quest, which early on and to this day has been recognized as one of the most successful job training programs in the country. In 2011, when Project Quest was plagued with controversy from failings due not to corruption but to incompetence, Sister Pearl was brought in to turn it around. She did and ran the organization for six years.

Now the City of San Antonio is embarking on SA: Ready to Work, a program approved by the voters last November that will spend $154 million over five or six years in an effort to train the city’s working poor for good-paying jobs that the city is now generating.

[Photo Credit: Nick Wagner/San Antonio Report]

Solid Advice For Erik Walsh: Talk To The Nun, San Antonio Report [pdf]


[Excerpt]

About five years ago, COPS/Metro sought and won “living wage” minimum pay for City workers, resulting in raises for about 20 percent of the civilian workforce. They won similar measures from Bexar County, and some school districts followed suit.

Now two measures on the Nov. 3 ballot offer San Antonians the opportunity to again help lower-rung workers.  Both involve a one-eighth-cent sales tax that for 20 years has provided funding to buy development rights to protect sensitive lands over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.

The first ballot measure would transfer those funds to provide about $154 million over the next four years for a job training program projected to boost the incomes of up to 40,000 workers. That’s an aggressive goal, but what gives it credibility is that its approach is based on Project Quest, a jobs training program designed by COPS/Metro 28 years ago.

Interestingly, it was COPS/Metro and their sister organizations around the state that persuaded the Legislature back in 2001 to authorize local governments to spend money on job training and early childhood education. That same law, the Texas Better Jobs Act, permitted San Antonio voters to approve Pre-K 4 SA in November 2012. The highly successful preschool program is up for renewal on the ballot.

[Photo Credit: Scott Ball, San Antonio Report]

Election Day Ballot Will Let You Celebrate Labor Day on November 3rd, San Antonio Report [pdf]


AMOS_Press_release.jpgAt the urging of AMOS leaders, Governor Reynolds is investing $5 million for job training paired with wrap-around services from CARES Act funds.

After hearing stories from Iowans facing the stress of unemployment amidst a shifting economic environment, AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy) began researching how to help workers get back to work in living wage jobs.

"Losing a job is a trauma for workers and their families," said AMOS leader Rev. Dr. Benjamin Bell Jr. "We know that workers need not only training to be able to access higher-wage work, but also support for that trauma, childcare access and assistance to help them complete a training program and be ready to re-enter the workforce."

Since May, AMOS leaders had been meeting with business, government, and community stakeholders to formulate a job training proposal to address the coronavirus crisis. In July, 100 AMOS leaders convened a Workforce Summit calling on Governor Reynolds to invest in intensively supported job training which was built on a model pioneered by the West / Southwest IAF. This initiative will ensure workers have the training and support they need to get back to work, strengthening their families and better able to support the communities they live in.

Governor Reynolds Heeds AMOS' Call to Invest in Iowa's Workforce, AMOS [pdf]


[Excerpt]

Less than two months before early voting begins, Mayor Ron Nirenberg has called in several heavy hitters to steer his campaign to use a sales tax to help residents get back to work after they lost their jobs to the coronavirus.

The campaign, known as “Build SA,” faces the daunting task of figuring out how to break through a noisy November election to convince San Antonio voters to put more than $150 million toward a still loosely defined proposal that city officials estimate would help 40,000 residents get higher-paying jobs....

The mayor has assembled a trio of co-chairs to lead the effort: Blakely Fernandez, a partner at law firm Bracewell and former Alamo Colleges trustee; Linda Chavez-Thompson, former executive vice president of the national AFL-CIO and a former VIA Metropolitan Transit board member; and Sonia Rodriguez, a leader of the local grassroots organization COPS/Metro.

[Photo Credit: KENS5]

San Antonio Mayor Calling In Heavy Hitters for Campaign to Win Voter Approval of Coronavirus Economic Recovery Plan, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]

City to Ask Voters Whether to Redirect 1/8 Cent Sales Tax Towards Workforce Education, KENS5 [pdf]


[Excerpt]

Voters will be asked to approve a 1/8-cent sales tax to fund job training and college degrees for San Antonians who lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The money also would help participants pay rent and other living expenses while they complete those programs.

The sales tax revenue would be dedicated to those purposes for four years....

“Today, San Antonians need this investment more than ever,” Virginia Mata, a leader of the grassroots coalition COPS/Metro told council members Thursday. “It is not only the right thing to do but also the right investment. The seeds that you plant today will have a lasting effect and will help San Antonians rise from the shadows to the light.”

[Photo Credit: Billy Calzada, San Antonio Express-News]

'We Need Action Now': Sales Tax Proposal for San Antonio Economic Recovery Now in Voters' Hands, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]

With Workforce Measure on Ballot, Project Quest Ready to Help Mend Economic Wounds, Rivard Report [pdf]

 

[Excerpt]

Since the onset of the pandemic, COPS/Metro with our allies, Project QUEST and the Alamo Colleges, have led the way to ensure San Antonians whose lives have been shattered by the economic free fall can re-enter the workforce equipped with new skills and good salaries. This month, the workforce development program supported by CARES and the city of San Antonio began accepting applicants whose jobs went on hiatus or completely disappeared. These applicants are supported with critical wraparound services that include a stipend, child care, transportation, tutoring and counseling, like the highly successful services provided by Project QUEST, which is recognized nationally for its high graduation and job placement rates. The Alamo Colleges will play a vital role in this program, using Project QUEST’s model along with partnerships that will strengthen and expand its capacity to serve displaced workers.

To be successful, the new Education and Workforce Program will need to adhere to a set of standards like the CARES recovery program, whose primary focus is meeting the needs of the participants. Addressing those needs must be the focal point of decision-making, not business as usual. This means providing quality wraparound services, including a 1-to-100 ratio of counselors to participants, ensuring job placement upon program completion and connecting graduates with jobs that pay a living wage with benefits. And the overall policy direction and management of the program must reside within city government, along with participants, educators and community members who can offer insight into program implementation.

Approximately 160,000 workers have been displaced due to the pandemic. The lion’s share of the funding should be directed toward them. While the majority of tax dollars will be dedicated to workforce development, funds could also go to participants with some college credits who want to complete their degrees. If the higher education institutions adequately address their needs, it is possible a fair number of college graduates could result from a small investment into this pathway. However, using public dollars to offer the same programs and services that previously failed these same students will not do. This is not a scholarship program; it is a jobs program.

[Photo Credit: Billy Calzada/San Antonio Express-News]

Improving Economy of City, Lives Of its Residents in Grasp, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]


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