North Highland Analyzes Impact of Workforce Development Programs in Atlanta

February 13, 2018

North Highland has set a philanthropic goal to bring disruptive thinking to the challenges of economic mobility in the cities in which it works. In Atlanta, the team chose to tackle economic empowerment by working on a pilot with select nonprofits focusing on workforce development. This pilot included a collaboration with Atlanta CareerRise (ACR), an Atlanta-based regional workforce funders’ collaborative. ACR focuses on creating workforce partnerships to provide pathways for underemployed individuals to become proficient through training, development and placement. The collaboration, in which North Highland provided data analysis services, resulted in a first-of-its-kind report on the effectiveness of workforce development programs in Metro Atlanta. The full report, Job Training Programs That Work: Economic Impact of Job Training Programs in Metro Atlanta, can be found here and a summary here.

The report is an outcome of ACR’s leadership to increase the transparency and efficacy of local workforce programs. ACR assembled a data alliance of six workforce nonprofits, representing nine workforce development programs. Together, the organizations created a robust data set which covered pre- and post- program records for 800+ individual participants over a two-year period. The analysis was informed by additional data around programmatic costs, demographics, employment and earned income data, public benefits, taxes paid and a calculated return on investment.

Overall, the data shows that despite significant barriers to employment and career advancement, individuals who completed their job training programs achieved higher employment rates and greatly increased their contribution to the local community. Additional findings include:

  • Program graduates who maintained their employment for six months contributed to at least $12.9M in wage dollars annually (pre-tax) and an increase of $2.1M paid annually in new state and federal taxes
  • 93% of program participants completed their respective program
  • The average hourly wage of participants employed at intake and employed six months later increased by 47%
  • Program graduates achieve high rates of post-program employment (85%) and 6-month employment retention (78%)
  • An annual reduction of $231,036 was spent on TANF and SNAP benefits
  • Programs achieved a 103% return on direct training cost based on annual new wages

The report illustrates the positive impacts and return on job training programs offered by regional nonprofit organizations. Such organizations contribute to an essential segment of the workforce development pipeline, supporting individuals with a combination of job training, employability skills enhancement and coaching and case management.

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