VE Chosen For 5-Year RAND Corporation Study Examining the Benefits of Work-Based Learning Programs

By November 16, 2021 December 2nd, 2021 News, Press Release

NEW YORK, Nov. 16, 2021 – Virtual Enterprises International (VEI) announced today that the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of its high school work-based learning (WBL) program is the focus of a federally-funded, five-year study. The RAND Corporation, in partnership with the American Institutes for Research, will be conducting this study funded by The Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

VE is a year-long WBL course in which students create and run a virtual company together as a class. Students assume corporate roles, such as CEO, marketing manager, or human resources director, and work together to develop and implement their company’s business strategy while operating in a virtual economy with hundreds of other VE firms. The study will provide the first causal evidence on the VE program’s impact on student academic performance and employment outcomes. 

The VE program has been adopted by 430 U.S. schools, many of which are located in low-income areas. More than 200,000 students have experienced the program since its inception in 1996 and over 20,000 students take the course each year. 

The Career and Technical Education (CTE) Research Network identified VE as ready for a rigorous evaluation through an evaluability assessment of 112 other U.S.-based WBL programs. 

In addition to the VE curriculum, the VEI nonprofit provides training for VE teachers (known as facilitators), virtual start-up capital to the firms, and runs the online marketplace in which VE firms sell their goods or services. 

The research team will conduct a randomized controlled trial that includes districts across three states and approximately 40 high schools running the VE program. Eligible students will be randomized into the VE program for the school years 2022–23 and 2023–24. Researchers will use administrative data, assessments, and surveys to compare the academic and employment outcomes of students assigned to VE to those who were not. Additional data will be collected to measure students’ employability skills and to support the implementation study. The RAND Corporation study will conclude June 30, 2026. 


Virtual Enterprises International (VE) is a national nonprofit that transforms students through authentic business experiences which prepare them for fulfilling, financially secure futures. Since Virtual Enterprises’ (VE) inception in 1996, it has served more than 200,000 high school and middle school students, including many from economically disadvantaged communities.

VE provides a solution for schools to offer all students meaningful skills-based career experiences. Through our hands-on, task-based curricula, aligned to the VE Career Readiness Framework, students test drive potential careers and develop in-demand skills and competencies that post-secondary institutions and employers are seeking. By managing the day-to-day operations of a company, students not only develop business skills and an entrepreneurial mindset, they also identify career pathways that align with their interests, talents, and aspirations.

We annually support 20,000+ students across the U.S. each year and are part of a global network spanning 40+ countries and 7,000+ student-run businesses. Learn more about VE on our websiteFacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn pages.


The RAND Corporation is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous. RAND is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and committed to the public interest. This study will be undertaken by RAND Education and Labor, a research division of RAND dedicated to providing objective research and analysis that improves social and economic well-being through education and workforce development. The division does research on early childhood through postsecondary education programs, workforce development, programs and policies affecting workers, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy and decision making.


Founded in 1946, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance to solve some of the most urgent challenges in the U.S. and around the world.

AIR’s mission is to generate and use rigorous evidence that contributes to a better, more equitable world.