Grantee Spotlight:

Capital IDEA - Lifting working adults out of poverty through education 

The Capital IDEA Houston program is a "career expressway" built by our partners for the purpose of lifting our participants out of poverty and helping them to overcome the barriers to economic self-sufficiency.

Capital Investing in Development and Education of Adults (IDEA) believes that motivated individuals with great capacity who are living in poverty are often unable to change the trajectory of their lives because of multi-faceted barriers that are insurmountable without intensive support.  With this premise, Capital IDEA seeks out individuals who are ready and motivated to engage in higher education towards a promising job and who will work hard with staff to implement solutions.

The "career expressway" developed by Capital IDEA with its various partners is as multi-faceted as the barriers and involves two major categories of supports: coordinated social services and academic support.  The social services set the stage for participants to be able to focus on their education, attend classes, study, do homework and maintain grades.  Services include regular case management, emergency transportation, financial assistance, child care subsidies and a peer support group.  The academic services include mandatory tutoring, test preparation assistance and "developmental" and "pre-requisite academies" for participants who need to upgrade reading, writing and math skills prior to beginning community college classes in the medical or energy fields.    

Integral to the success of the program are the thoughtful public/private partnerships that were sought out and developed before the program began enrolling participants.  Partners include the Texas Workforce Commission, WorkForce Solutions offices, Lone Star Community College and Houston Community College.  Through these partnerships, Capital IDEA's case managers are able to quickly connect participants to essential supports like child care subsidies and are able to provide more targeted (and therefore more effective) academic supports.    

Connecting to high-wage, in-demand jobs

"We sponsor the most promising careers available in the Houston area.If a career makes it on to our list, that means we are confident that the wages, benefits, and opportunity for growth, make it worth the time and effort needed to get the skills and education."

Far too often, low-income youth and adults enter the community college system hopeful to gain the education and credentials for connecting to a good job and exit disillusioned, in debt and unable to connect to a good job.  Many factors contribute to that undesirable outcome External barriers may keep students from being able to continue their studies or they may turn out to be ill prepared for the curriculum, so they terminate their education.  For those who do complete a course of study, many find that the credentials earned aren't enough to qualify for a high-wage job or that there aren't enough job openings in that field.  Prior to enrolling in Capital IDEA all prospective participants will learn in-depth about careers that are high-wage and in-demand and must commit to an academic program and to eventually working in one of those fields.  Applicants are all too often unaware of what the labor force demands for professional trades and are usually grateful to learn about other options that meet their interests and will help them reach their goals. 

The careers that Capital IDEA sponsors have been targeted by the Texas Workforce Commission for the Houston-Galveston region  using job opening estimates provided by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and are updated regularly. Some sample careers include process technician, welder, petroleum engineer, diesel engine mechanic, occupational therapy assistant, radiology technician, respiratory therapist and surgical technologist.   

To view a complete list of these careers and to learn more about what they entail, visit the Capital IDEA website:    

What is the impact?

Capital IDEA is changing lives one student at a time. 

"Capital IDEA Houston is like a dream come true. A program to help me to succeed in life. It's a wonderful program to be a part of - it helps you strive for what you want in want in life, in all aspects." - LaQueena Woodard, future Occupational Therapy Assistant

In more quantitative terms, 52% of the first cohorts of Capital IDEA students are expected to graduate in the next year.  The average graduation rate for Houston Community College is 16%.  These students have overcome tremendous hurdles and have persisted in their education.  The outcome thus far has been 95% of them obtaining employment or continuing with the next step of their professional advancement (credentialing or pursuing a four year degree) within 90 days of graduation.  Those who are immediately seeking employment after graduation are earning an average of $19.11/hour at full-time jobs.   In addition, the participants are graduating within 3-5 years versus the 4-6 year average of non-Capital IDEA students. 

Not everyone is ready to make the significant commitment to the Capital IDEA program, but for those who are ready, a better life with stable, gainful employment is within reach. 

"Capital IDEA Houston is the reason why I'm getting my life back together. Others should apply to better their lives, and their loved ones' lives as well." - Mario Trevino, future Process Technician

To learn more about Capital IDEA visit


Capital IDEA