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.
With federal sponsorship from the Administration for Children and Families and the Social Innovation Fund and in partnership with Abt Associates, Year Up is one of nine leading programs selected to participate in the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) Evaluation. PACE is a randomized controlled trial impact evaluation of next-generation strategies for increasing economic self-sufficiency. In 2013 and 2014, nearly 2,500 participants from nine Year Up locations (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, National Capital Region, New York, Puget Sound, Providence, San Francisco, Silicon Valley) 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. Currently, the first PACE report, which examines outcomes in the first 18 months after graduation from our program, is under review between our evaluators and our federal sponsors and will be released in 2018. Two later reports will track participants’ outcomes out to two and then five years after graduation, respectively.
While we eagerly wait for the publication of our first PACE report early this year, 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. Additionally, please read Learning Together: Building Stronger Practitioner-Researcher Partnerships (Fein, 2016), for insight on Year Up and Abt’s longstanding collaboration.
Links to Other PACE Reports
- Risk Factors for College Success: Insights From Adults in Nine Career Pathways Programs (Fein, 2016)
- Programmatic and Other Supports Accessed by Career Pathways Participants (Seefeldt, Engstrom, & Gardiner, 2016)
- Finances, Family, Materials, and Time: Career Pathways Participants’ Perceived Challenges (Seefeldt, Engstrom, & Gardiner, 2016)
- Nothing Can Stop Me: Career Pathways Participants’ Motivations and Thoughts on Success (Seefeldt, Engstrom, & Gardiner, 2016)
- Progress on Pathways: Findings from Qualitative Interviews with PACE Participants (Seefeldt, 2017)
- School, Work, and Waiting: The Activities of PACE Control Group Participants (Seefeldt, 2017)
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)