Project QUEST, an innovative job training program in San Antonio, has earned statewide and national attention as a model for local workforce development efforts. Since 1993, Project QUEST has met the needs of San Antonio area businesses by training local residents who would otherwise be on public assistance and not in the San Antonio workforce.
As a winner of a 1995 Innovations Award from the Ford Foundation and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Project QUEST remains a national role model among job training programs because of its ties to businesses and community-based organizations. Organizations from other Texas communities, other states, the United Kingdom and Singapore have found Project QUEST to be a valid inspiration and benchmark entity for their economic and workforce development efforts.
QUEST was honored as a 2003 winner of The Enterprise Foundation and The J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation Award for Excellence in Workforce Development. This award recognizes nonprofit job training and placement organizations across the country that are using best practices to effectively help individuals find and retain quality jobs. In 2008, QUEST was among a select group of workforce development organizations to receive workforce grants from the US Department of Labor and QUEST continues to leverage the recognition of their excellence from a growing number of private organizations who share QUEST’s vision for greater community involvement in the innovation and development of education and workforce preparation initiatives.
To date QUEST has served 5,700 adults with a high graduation rate of 80%, a 86% job placement and 90% retention rate. Participants make on average $10,000 a year before entering QUEST and after graduation they make $40,000 a year. With consideration to increased wages and a reduction in public assistance, our current return on investment is approximately 15 to 1. These statistics indicate that program participants are obtaining the skills needed to acquire and retain quality employment and transition out of poverty.
In 2013, QUEST served 976 program participants with 241 graduates that represented 16 demand occupations ranging from Healthcare to Information Technology to Professional Trades. The 2013 graduates were enrolled in a training, licensing and job placement program on average for 2 years. The average starting wage per hour for QUEST graduates in 2013 was $19.50.
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