Panel Paper: Building a Future: Interim Impacts from the Youthbuild Evaluation

Friday, November 3, 2017
Wrigley (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Cynthia Miller1, Megan Millenky1, Lisa Schwartz2, Lisbeth Goble2, Jillian Stein2 and Michelle Manno1, (1)MDRC, (2)Mathematica Policy Research

Making the successful transition to adulthood has become more and more difficult for many American young people. Unemployment rates among young people are more than double those among older adults, and young people were hit especially hard by the recent recession of 2007- 2009. Finding ways to reengage these young people in education and work is one of our nation’s central social policy challenges.

YouthBuild is one program that attempts to help this group. YouthBuild is a federally and privately funded program operated at over 250 organizations nationwide, serving over 10,000 young people each year. Each organization provides construction-related training and may also provide training in other in-demand industries, along with educational services, counseling, and leadership-development opportunities, to low-income, out-of-school young people ages 16 to 24.

YouthBuild is being evaluated using a randomized controlled trial, in which eligible young people at participating programs were assigned either to a program group, invited to enroll in YouthBuild, or to a control group, referred to other services in the community. The evaluation includes 75 programs across the country funded by the U.S. Department of Labor or the Corporation for National and Community Service and nearly 4,000 young people who enrolled in the study between 2011 and 2013. The paper presents the program’s interim effects, through two and a half years, on young people’s education, training, employment, civic engagement, youth development, and criminal justice involvement. The findings are based on administrative records data and youth responses to 12- and 30-month surveys. YouthBuild led to a number of positive effects including an increased the rate at which participants earned high school equivalency credentials, enrolled in college, and participated in vocational training; a small increase in wages and earnings at 30 months; and increase civic engagement, particularly volunteering. YouthBuild had few effects on other measures of youth development or attitude and involvement in the criminal justice system.