Learning Together: Building Evidence to Close the Opportunity Gap for Low-Income Youth
(Employment and Training Programs)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Year Up’s core program serves about 2,000 young adults (aged 18-24) a year through offices in eight major urban areas. It provides six months of customized training in high-demand fields (e.g., IT, business operations), followed by a six-month internship in a high-level professional setting. The program provides a comprehensive array of supports and insists on high expectations. Employer payments for interns finance over half of the $28,290 average cost per student.
The program is one of nine sites in PACE—a major national randomized controlled trials (RCT) evaluation of approaches to developing career pathways for low-income youth and adults. The PACE evaluation is using “career pathways” as a framework for situating and guiding measurement and analysis across varying program models.
Year Up’s next-generation Professional Training Corps (PTC) model leverages college facilities and instructional capacity to reduce Year Up’s marginal costs, expand recruitment avenues, and access training in a wider array of fields. A financial goal is to reach or exceed the break-even point at which employer payments cover Year Up’s costs in operating the program. The program’s rapid spread to over 12 colleges in the past five years attests to its strong dissemination potential.
Our research on the PTC model is blending improvement science with impact evaluation. Continuity in research teams from the original to adapted versions of the Year Up program has helped to ground this work in a thorough understanding of the model and issues involved in scaling. Lessons from this successful experience with collaboration also should interest policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and funders more broadly.
This research has reached an important stage, with the first report on core program impacts scheduled for release early in the fall and the reaching of key milestones in PTC research.