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Impact of Ready to Work Partnership Grants


  • Years after the 2008 recession, long spells of unemployment persisted.
  • Ready to Work Partnership Grants were designed to help long-term unemployed get jobs.
  • Abt conducted an implementation study and impact evaluation.
The Challenge

The Ready to Work (RTW) Partnership Grant program, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) following the 2008-2009 recession, was designed to prepare middle- to high-skilled individuals who had experienced long-term unemployment for occupations in high-growth industries. In 2014, 24 partnerships of workforce agencies, training providers, employers, and other organizations received RTW grants to provide customized employment services to long-term unemployed workers. Services included job search assistance, short- and long-term occupational training, and paid work-based training. The grant-funded programs operated from 2015-2019.

The Approach

DOL sponsored an evaluation of the RTW grant program conducted by Abt Associates in partnership with MEF Associates. The evaluation includes an implementation study and an impact study of four grantee programs. The implementation study examines the design and operation of the four selected programs. The impact study uses a random assignment research design to examine the effect of the programs on educational attainment, employment, and earnings.

The Results

Findings from the implementation study detail the ways in which grantees served long-term unemployed workers, including the sustainability of grant-funded services and lessons for future programs. The study found grantees provided the services DOL specified. Some emphasized upgrading skills through occupational training, and others emphasized employment readiness skills. As the economy improved and job-ready unemployed workers found jobs, grantees served workers facing greater employment barriers. Grantees adjusted programs to better serve this population.

The forthcoming impact study examines the effectiveness of four programs in increasing participants’ educational attainment and employment and earnings 18 months and 30 months after study enrollment.  

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