Project QUEST, the nonprofit workforce development organization created more than a quarter-century ago by the COPS/Metro Alliance, has been awarded a $1 million grant that the organization says will allow it to serve more San Antonians with expanded job training programs.
The award comes from the Rockefeller Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative as part of their Communities Thrive Challenge, which awarded $1 million each to 10 organizations across the nation, working to “help low-income and financially insecure people find and retain well-paid, meaningful work, achieve financial security or build economically vibrant neighborhoods.”
San Antonio’s Project QUEST wins national $1 million grant, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]
Austin Interfaith Ensures City Council Strengthens Living Wage Requirement for Taxpayer Subsidized Jobs
On the eve of Labor Day weekend, Austin Interfaith leaders celebrated the protection of living wages for all jobs subsidized by City of Austin taxpayers and applauded the Austin City Council for adopting a $15 an hour living wage floor requirement as a key feature of its expanded Economic Development Incentive Program.
Says David Guarino of All Saints Episcopal Church, “Austin Interfaith recognizes Mayor Steve Adler, City Manager Spencer Cronk and the members of the City Council for hearing and acting on our concerns.”
“Tonight, the Austin City Council has set a national standard for urban economic incentive programs by recognizing that people deserve the dignity of a living wage from employers who receive economic incentives,” Guarino.
Austin Interfaith has worked years to encourage the city to implement living wage standards for city-subsidized companies.
Support Your Local and Small Businesses, Austin Chronicle
Council Considers Which Strings to Attach to Corporate Incentives, Austin Monitor [pdf]
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.
San Antonio Program Moves Low-Skilled Workers Into Middle-Class, Houston 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)
Job Training Program Adjusts Amid Funding Cuts, Texas Tribune (2013)
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)
Nine Year Gains: Project QUEST's Continuing Impact, Economic Mobility Corporation (2019)
VIDA: Implementation and Early Impact Report, Pathways for Advancing Careers in Education (2018)
Escalating Gains: The Elements of Project QUEST's Success, Economic 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)
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]
Beyond Graduation: Promoting Post-Program Engagement & Advancement
Aspen Institute (2009); On the Road to Success video (2010)
Further reading on workforce development strategies
Video about the establishment of Project Quest in San Antonio (1994)
Story about the establishment of Project Quest in San Antonio by COPS/Metro
One of nine workforce development programs evaluated under the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE), the Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA) was selected as one of the most effective programs as measured by retention, graduation and employment. Findings from the study were revealed at South Texas College's Pecan Campus and celebrated by Senator Juan 'Chuy' Hinojosa and leaders from VIDA and Valley Interfaith. The study was a blind study -- essentially comparing what happened to 500 students who enrolled in VIDA and 500 students who enrolled in other programs.Read more
Leaders of Northern and Central Louisiana Interfaith (NCLI) hosted a press conference urging Caddo Economic Development not to grant Inferno Manufacturing a tax exemption for work already completed. Citing research by Blackwell Associates Law Firm indicating that granting tax subsidies for work completed violates the state constitution, Interfaith leaders testified that citizens should not be asked to pay for Inferno's already purchased equipment.Read more
Months after 750 COPS / Metro leaders challenged candidates for San Antonio City Council and the Bexar County Commissioners' Court to support their living wage agenda in a nonpartisan accountability assembly -- and then delivered 8,555 voters to the polls in support of their agenda -- both Bexar County and the City of San Antonio increased entry wages to $14.25 per hour.Read more
Project QUEST, With New Director and Research Ammo, Pushed for More Funding, San Antonio Express-News
Since the establishment of the JET Fund in 2009, Texas has invested in nonprofit labor market intermediaries across the state that helped 800+ low-income, nontraditional community college students navigate their way through community college.
The Adult Career Education (ACE) Grant program, the effort's most recent permutation, now faces an uncertain future. In efforts to slash the state budget, Texas legislators are moving to eliminate all "special item" expenditures, including those that pay for special programs at colleges, over and beyond the normal higher education funding formulas.Read more
Leaders are additionally working to build support for local workforce development program ACTS (Another Chance to Succeed) as a key element in reducing poverty-driven crime.Read more