Abt Associates: Bold thinkers driving real-world impact
Skill Up Rhode Island is an inventive, comprehensive workforce development initiative launched in phases by United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI) in 2005. Chief among its goals is the placement of low-income/low-skill Rhode Islanders in “good” jobs that offer access to benefits and the potential for advancement. It also seeks shared advocacy for workforce development legislation and programs by encouraging collaboration between state and local funders, institutions of higher learning, and low-income individuals. In its first years of operation, Skill Up won national attention and increases in funding.
To secure concrete data regarding how well the program has met challenges and achieved goals. To this end, UWRI retained Abt Associates to conduct the Skill Up Phase I evaluation and later, the Skill Up Phase II study. These evaluations examine UWRI’s goals, strategies, activities, accomplishments and challenges as they pertain to public policy and to partnerships with an eye to key outcomes and lessons learned. The studies involve interviews with the staff of United Way and Skill Up’s partnerships; crafting a theory of change for UWRI; conducting focus groups with employers and workers and reviewing quarterly reporting data on worker enrollment, training completion, placement, wages, retention and advancement. Findings from the research will shape future program decisions and help ensure improved outcomes for both of Skill Up’s audiences—economically disadvantaged Rhode Islanders and Rhode Island businesses.
Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 40 countries.