Jan 28, 2013


Career Beginnings is a two-year program for at-risk 11th- and 12th-graders and is designed to enhance success in school and the workforce. The program provides mentoring, workforce training and placement, and a competency-based curriculum. An experimental evaluation showed that participants were significantly more likely to attend two or four-year colleges for significantly longer durations of time.


Target population: High risk juniors and seniors in high school

Career Beginnings is a two-year program for students in their junior and senior years of high school and is designed to enhance success in school and the workforce. Career Beginnings is designed to provide technical and academic skills; increase high school graduation rates; and, following graduation, increase college attendance, technical training, and employment rates. Although there is considerable variation in the program model across sites, there are features common to all sites. Collaboration among local colleges or universities, public schools, and the business community is a key feature of the program. Participants are given jobs the summer between their junior and senior years. The summer before their senior year and during their senior year, they attend workshops and classes related to college entrance examinations and applying for financial aid. They also attend college and career fairs, and educational and career counseling is also provided. Community adult mentors are matched with each student to serve as a role model and to assist students in planning for the future.

Career Beginnings serves 1,500 to 2,000 students annually, with 100-200 students per site at 24 sites throughout the United States and Canada.

The following table provides a summary of the program components:

Component Provided by Duration Description
Mentoring Adults in community 2 years 1:1 mentor to student ratio
Academic support Sponsoring university/ college 2 years Competency-based curriculum; workshops (e.g., college preparation, college entrance exams, and career exploration)
Summer component, workforce training Mentor 1 summer Summer job provided after 11th grade



Cave, G., & Quint, J. (1990). Career Beginnings impact evaluation: Findings from a program for disadvantaged high school students. New York: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation.

Evaluated population: The evaluated population was 1,233 students from seven sites that responded to two follow-up interviews one and two years after random assignment. To be eligible, participants had to meet thresholds of being at risk but also show potential for success in program: this included youth with average academic achievement (middle 60 percent of their class); low to moderate family income; a good attendance record; limited career awareness and aspirations; and no serious juvenile offenses. Participants at each site had to fit the following parameters: 50 percent economically disadvantaged; 80 percent neither parent with a college degree; and 45 percent male.

Approach: Participants were recruited, usually by teacher or counselor recommendations to participate in the study. They were then randomly assigned to the experimental group, whose members were encouraged to enroll in Career Beginnings, or to the control group, whose members were not allowed to join the program. Follow-up interviews were conducted one and two years after program entry during participants’ senior year of high school and one year after graduation. Participants were interviewed about their educational institution attendance and length of stay, employment, earnings, dormitory living, relationship status, and number of children.

Results: Participants in the experimental group were significantly more likely to attend a two- or four-year college at some point between June 1988 and May 1989 than control group participants. The experimental group was also significantly less likely to have ever attended a vocational school. Additionally, Career Beginnings significantly increased the length of stay at college for experimental members. In February 1989, experimental group members were more likely to be living in a college dormitory than their control group counterparts. This shows that these program participants were more likely to still be enrolled in college and may also show they are more likely than controls to attend college away from their home towns.

Employment and earnings within 12 months after senior year of high school was significantly lower for experimental participants as compared to control participants.  Authors note that these data confirm the anticipated short-term trade-off between attending college and working. Experimental group members were also significantly less likely to be married at the time of the two year follow-up. There were no significant differences between groups in reporting having children of their own or being primarily responsible for child care.


Contact Information

William M. Bloomfield

School & Main Institute

750 Washington Street,

NEMC Box 328

Boston, MA 02011

800-873-2120 (phone)

617-227-2107 (fax)


Cave, G., & Quint, J. (1990). Career Beginnings impact evaluation: Findings from a program for disadvantaged high school students. New York: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation.

KEYWORDS: High Risk, High School, Other Education, Mentoring, Adolescence (12-17), Young Adulthood (18-24), Clinic-Based, Vocational Learning, College Preparation/Enrollment, Urban, African American or Black, Hispanic or Latino, White or Caucasian, Community-Based, Youth, Males and Females, Summer Program, Employment/Earnings, Family Structure/Marriage, Births

Program information last updated 1/28/13.