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Toward a Better Future: Evidence on Improving Employment Outcomes for Disadvanged Youth in the United States

February 1, 2015

This paper draws from an MDRC review of literature (funded by The Rockefeller Foundation) on labor market trends and employment-related programs for youth over the past 30 years. It aims to inform the search for demand-side solutions by providing a better understanding of: (1) factors that potentially drive high rates of unemployment among young adults; (2) the current state of evidence on employment-related interventions for youth, especially economically disadvantaged youth; and (3) future directions for change that involve stronger employer involvement.

Boosting the Life Chances of Young Men of Color: Evidence From Promising Programs

June 25, 2014

In light of the momentum building to improve the fortunes of young men of color, this review examines what is known about this population -- particularly related to their struggles in the labor market -- and highlights programs that are shown by randomized controlled trials to be making a difference.

Building Better Programs for Disconnected Youth

February 1, 2013

Nationally, more than one in four high school freshmen does not graduate in four years; in the 50 largest U.S. cities, the dropout rate is closer to 50 percent. Although many of these young people eventually seek to continue their education, a sizable number of dropouts (and many high school graduates) become seriously disconnected from both school and work. The long-term prospects for these young people are extremely poor. The population of disconnected youth is diverse, meaning that a range of different approaches is needed to reengage this group of young people. The research evidence on the effectiveness of such programs is relatively thin and the results are mixed, but there are some promising findings -- and a resurgence in political interest -- on which to build.

Staying on Course: Three Year Results of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Evaluation

June 30, 2011

Evaluates the effectiveness of a quasi-military residential and mentoring program that aims to place high school dropouts in employment, education, or military service and improve outcomes including indicators of health, lifestyle, and delinquency.

Building a Learning Agenda Around Disconnected Youth

March 1, 2010

In December 2007, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave MDRC a grant to conduct reconnaissance on promising strategies to reengage disconnected young people and improve their long-term outcomes. The primary objective of the grant was to identify key leverage points for future investment by government and foundations. MDRC consulted with researchers and policy experts, reviewed the results of completed and ongoing evaluations of youth programs, visited a number of innovative youth programs and cities with strong youth strategies, and hosted a meeting of youth practitioners. The goal of the paper's recommendations is to develop a menu of approaches for the heterogeneous population of disconnected youth--analogous in some ways to the multiple pathways that are being developed for high school students. The recommendations fall into two broad categories: building knowledge about mature, existing programs (to better understand whether they work, for whom, and why) and investment in developing and/or scaling up new programs that address areas of unmet need, such as efforts to restructure General Educational Development (GED) preparation programs so that they are more tightly linked with postsecondary programs, both occupational and academic; new "leg-up" strategies for older youth with very low basic skill levels, for whom a GED may not be a realistic goal; and new strategies to engage young people who are more profoundly disconnected and unlikely to volunteer for youth programs.

Transitional Jobs for Ex-Prisoners: Implementation, Two-Year Impacts, and Costs of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) Prisoner Reentry Program

August 31, 2009

A random assignment study shows that participants in CEO's transitional jobs program were less likely to be convicted of a crime, to be admitted to prison for a new conviction, or to be incarcerated for any reason in prison or jail over the first two years. The program also had a large but short-lived impact on employment.

The Joyce Foundation's Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration: Testing Strategies to Help Former Prisoners Find and Keep Jobs and Stay Out of Prison

July 1, 2009

Each year, almost 700,000 people are released from state prisons, and many struggle to find jobs and integrate successfully into society. This policy brief describes an innovative demonstration of transitional jobs programs for former prisoners in Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, and St. Paul being conducted by MDRC.

The Employment Retention and Advancement Project: Results from the Substance Abuse Case Management Program in New York City

March 1, 2009

Participants in an intensive care management program for public assistance recipients with substance abuse problems were slightly more likely to enroll in treatment than participants in less intensive services. However, the intensive program had no effects on employment or public benefit receipt among the full sample.

Reengaging High School Dropouts: Early Results of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program Evaluation

February 28, 2009

Very early results from a random assignment evaluation of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, an intensive, "quasi-military" residential program for high school dropouts, show that the program has large impacts on high school diploma and GED attainment and positive effects on working, college-going, health, self-efficacy, and avoiding arrest.

Welfare Time Limits: An Update on State Policies, Implementation, and Effects on Families

April 1, 2008

One of the most controversial features of the 1990s welfare reforms was the imposition of time limits on benefit receipt. This comprehensive review, written by The Lewin Group and MDRC, includes analyses of administrative data reported by states to the federal government, visits to several states, and a literature review.

A Good Start: Two-Year Effects of a Freshmen Learning Community Program at Kingsborough Community College

March 11, 2008

Freshmen in a "learning community" at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, NY, moved more quickly through developmental English requirements, took and passed more courses, and earned more credits in their first semester than students in a control group. Two years later, they were also somewhat more likely to be enrolled in college.

Transitional Jobs for Ex-Prisoners: Early Impacts from a Random Assignment Evaluation of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) Prisoner Reentry Program

November 1, 2007

After one year, CEO's transitional jobs program generated a large but short-lived increase in employment for ex-prisoners. A subgroup of recently released prisoners showed positive effects on recidivism: They were less likely to have their parole revoked, to be convicted of a felony, and to be reincarcerated than the control group.