PARTNERSWhile VIDA provides the financial support and counseling services instrumental to our participants' success, it is our close collaborative efforts with our education, workforce, city government, corporate and private foundation partners that allow us to transform lives in the Valley.
VIDA, one of nine programs from across the nation, was selected in 2011 as a key partner for the nationwide Innovative Strategies for Increasing Self Sufficiency (ISIS) evaluation project. ISIS is providing a rigorous evaluation of next-generation strategies for increasing the economic self-sufficiency of low-income individuals and families. The project is evaluating nine innovative workforce training approaches aimed at increasing access and completion of post secondary career pathways across the US. The ISIS grant was awarded to Abt & Associates, a leader in research based in Maryland and is fully funded by the U.S. Health and Human Services Planning, Research and Evaluation Office of the Administration for Children and Families.
VIDA was chosen because our innovative and comprehensive strategies have resulted in high graduation rates and in helping disadvantaged adults access college-level training. ISIS is particularly interested in VIDA because the program holds great promise for impacting policy makers and funders. An ISIS test of VIDA will contribute to understanding the extent to which providing strong educational, personal, and financial supports helps motivated low-income individuals attain high-wage jobs and supply skilled workers in areas of the economy with skill shortages. In addition, our sister organizations in Tucson, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Houston, El Paso, and Louisiana have similarly high success rates and share the program delivery model used at VIDA. Policy makers and practitioners have grown increasingly interested in these efforts, and as such, VIDA's participation in this project will provide highly credible findings which may be applied to other organizations and those interested in further replicating the model.
An exciting aspect of the ISIS evaluation is that national & local funders are stepping up and investing in the expansion of VIDA's program model in the Rio Grande Valley.
Open Society Foundations
The Open Society Foundations (OSF) was the first funder to invest in the 250 participants who we are enrolling in VIDA and the ISIS Project. Their very generous grant over the next two years was made through Abt Associates, the coordinator of ISIS. OSF works to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve this mission, OSF seeks to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. On a local level, the OSF implements a range of initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media. OSF places a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.
Investor and philanthropist George Soros established the Open Society Foundations, starting in 1984, to build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people. OSF activities have grown to encompass the United States and more than 70 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Jobs For The Future
South Texas College (STC), Workforce Solutions LRGV and VIDA partnered in 2009 on a pilot project funded by Jobs for the Future. This Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) Career Pathway has provided 24 individuals the opportunity to prepare concurrently for a GED and a Certified Nursing Assistant license. Participants then progress seamlessly into a concurrent curriculum for Patient Care Assistant Certificate and a hybrid of the College Prep Academy to prepare for the college entrance exam. Once completed, this accelerated program design leads participants directly into the LVN program.
The average age of the participants in this pilot is 36 years old and 75% are first generation immigrants from Mexico. This unique program allows individuals, who are not English proficient, the chance to start with a GED and propel forward toward an LVN career pathway. We are proud to report that nearly three years into the partnership, there is an 83% retention rate. Jobs for the Future identifies, develops and promotes new education and workforce strategies that help communities, states and the nation compete in a global economy. Jobs for the Future improves the pathways leading from high school to college to family-sustaining careers.
Partners for Postsecondary Success
For generations of Americans, the high school diploma delivered on the value of an education. It gave you a ticket to the American Dream. That meant a steady job to support your family and a chance to launch a career. But now, high school is no longer enough. The median wage for workers with no college is now close to the poverty line for a family of four. That leaves only one path out of poverty: education—a college education. Whether it comes as a Certificate, an Associate's degree, or a Bachelor's degree, a postsecondary credential is the best bridge between poor students and good jobs.
The Partners for Postsecondary Success (PPS), an MDC Initiative, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation recognizes the seriousness of the fact that while college enrollment has grown nearly 35 percent since the 1970's, college completion rates have faltered dramatically during the same time period. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has allocated funds to various organizations including PPS to address the problem of young people enrolling in college but failing to get a certificate or degree. The PPS team is led by the United Way of Brownsville and includes the Brownsville Independent School District, University of Texas–Brownsville, Texas Southmost College, the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, Brownsville Economic Development Corporation and VIDA. The PPS-Brownsville's plan was funded and the work has commenced to double the number of young adults (ages 16-26) who earn a postsecondary credential with labor market value by 2025.
Cities, Economic Development Corporations & State
Collaborative PartnersValley Interfaith
Workforce Solutions - Hidalgo County, Workforce Solutions Cameron
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Independent Electrical Contractors, National Association Plumbing, Heating and Cooling contractors of American
Starr County; Hidalgo County; Willacy, Starr, and Cameron County
The North American Advanced Manufacturing Research & Education Initiative(NAAMREI)