For decades, federal resources for workforce programs that supported Opportunity Youth were cut or diverted to early-childhood intervention initiatives because of a lack of solid, high-quality research to show that programs like Year Up work. Since 2007, Year Up has conducted a series of gold-standard randomized controlled trials to fairly and objectively study the impact of our program on our students’ long-term success. We have seen amazing results that demonstrate the lasting positive effects of our program.
The Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) evaluation is a randomized controlled trial impact evaluation (the gold standard of studies) of next-generation strategies for increasing economic self-sufficiency. With federal sponsorship from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and the Social Innovation Fund and in partnership with Abt Associates, Year Up is one of nine leading programs selected to participate in PACE. In 2013 and 2014, nearly 2,500 participants from nine Year Up locations were randomized into treatment and control groups. The Abt evaluation team is tracking these participants’ short- and long-term employment and education outcomes to determine Year Up’s impact.
The PACE evaluation will produce a series of three impact reports on Year Up. We are pleased to present the first report, which highlights Year Up’s incredible earnings gains as the largest to date for workforce programs tested in RCTs. Young adults in the treatment group saw a 53% increase in initial earnings, which remained strong over time, with 40% earnings gains two years out.
To learn more, read the report below, Bridging the Opportunity Divide for Low-Income Youth: Implementation and Early Impacts of the Year Up Program.
Two later reports will track participants’ outcomes out to three then five years after graduation, respectively. In the meantime, we invite you to read a Year Up case study, Scaling Up to Close the Opportunity Divide for Low-Income Youth (Fein, 2016), which examines how we have successfully and rapidly grown our program during the PACE evaluation, and Learning Together: Building Stronger Practitioner-Researcher Partnerships (Fein, 2016), for insights on Year Up and Abt’s longstanding collaboration.
For more PACE reports, visit the PACE website.
The Social Innovation Fund (SIF) was a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) that received funding from 2010 to 2016. Using public and private resources to find and grow community-based nonprofits with evidence of results, SIF intermediaries received funding to award subgrants that focus on overcoming challenges in economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development. CNCS supported the PACE evaluation through SIF grants to New Profit (2010-2015) and Venture Philanthropy Partners (2011-2016) and subgrants to Year Up. We are grateful to our SIF partners for their support.
We also wish to acknowledge the Open Society Foundations who made significant contributions to help Year Up expand participants recruitment for the study, and our partners at the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) of the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for their sponsorship of the wider PACE study that made all of this work possible. Finally, we extend sincere and special thanks to the top-notch evaluations team at Abt Associates who conducted this rigorous study and provided Year Up with technical assistance along the way.
With support from a federal Development and Innovation grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Year Up is continuing its partnership with Abt Associates as well as researchers from the University of Pennsylvania on a four-year evaluation of Year Up’s Professional Training Corps (PTC) model. The IES evaluation is being conducted in two phases: 1) three “mini-studies” of selected aspects of program implementation, and 2) a rigorous assessment of education and employment impacts using a randomized controlled trial at three Year Up PTC locations.
Phase one’s mini-studies are small, quick-turnaround research projects on key program design and implementation challenges. Year Up’s three mini-studies that started in 2016, include:
- A review of educational outcomes for all Year Up students since 2010, with a focus on higher education continuation and completion among PTC students
- An in-depth analysis of interns’ experiences at their internships and support services for internship managers
- A randomized design test of modified academic monitoring and support services at three PTC sites aiming to improve grades, college completion, credit accumulation, and overall retention
Year Up began the phase two randomized controlled trial in early 2017, which will continue until the release of the first IES evaluation impact report in late 2019.
In partnership with the Economic Mobility Corporation (EMC), Year Up conducted an impact evaluation using a randomized controlled trial with 195 young adults at three program sites in Boston, Providence, and New York. EMC tracked 135 Year Up students and 60 control group members for two years to measure and compare employment outcomes and enrollment in post-secondary education. During the second year of the study, Year Up participants earned 30% (or $3,500) more than young adults in the control group. While Year Up participants and control group members were equally likely to be enrolled in college, EMC’s president Mark Elliott called this “the most exciting evaluation results we’ve seen in youth employment in 20 or 30 years – and the first to show a really substantial earnings gain.”
Links to EMC Reports
- A Promising Start: Year Up’s Initial Impacts on Low-Income Young Adults’ Careers (Roder & Elliott, 2011)
- Sustained Gains: Year Up’s Continued Impact on Young Adults’ Earnings (Roder & Elliott, 2014)