Program

Jul 07, 2016

OVERVIEW

Year Up is an intensive job preparation program for low-income young adults. Over the course of a year, participants receive vocational training for a well-paying job, then do an internship in that field. Participants receive a stipend and other supports. A study found that the program had increased wages for the treatment group two years after they started, but had no impact on employment rates, employment benefits received, or college enrollment. Across years one through three, treatment group members earned significantly more than control group members. A follow-up study conducted four years after random assignment found that the program increased the likelihood of treatment group members having worked in the targeted occupations, increased receipt of financial assistance for college among those who were attending, and increased interest in college among those who were not attending.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Low-income young adults, ages 18 to 24

Year Up is a year-long, intensive job preparation program that includes both vocational training and an internship. Throughout, participants receive a weekly stipend of up to $150 during the classroom training period and $225-$250 during the internship that is tied to their attendance and completion of assignments. Participants also have access to staff advisors, social workers, and a professional mentor from outside the program, and participate in weekly group meetings to talk about how the program is progressing. The participants must agree to a “performance contract” that they will get to classes and work on time and complete assignments, or leave the program. When they complete the course and internship, they are given help with their job search and with the college enrollment process.

The first six months of the program consists of vocational training, targeted towards jobs that are well paying in the current market: currently, information technology support and investment operations. Along with the specifics of the field of choice, students learn computer skills, business communication, and cultural competence in professional environments (dress, self-presentation, networking, and conflict management). Classes are designed so that participants can earn college credits that will transfer if they decide to pursue higher education after the program ends.

The second six months of the program consist of an internship with one of the program’s corporate partners. The corporations pay the Year Up program, rather than the participants, which, in turn, gives the participants their stipend. Supervisors at the site are expected to provide both support and guidance to their interns.  A 2014 report describing a study from September 2007 to September 2011 listed the average operating cost as $24,562 per participant across three sites in Boston, Providence, and New York.

EVALUATIONS OF PROGRAM

Roder, A. & Elliott, M. (2011). A promising start: Initial impacts of Year Up on low-income young adults’ careers. New York: Economic Mobility Corporation.

Evaluated population: The study was conducted with 195 low-income young adults, ages 18 to 24, in Boston, Providence, and New York, who had either a GED or high school diploma. In the sample, a slight majority were male (57 percent), and nearly three-quarters were between the ages of 18 and 21 (72 percent), with the remainder between the ages of 22 and 24.  Half were African American or black, and a third were Latino. Less than half were working at the time that they applied to the program (43 percent) and, while 88 percent had worked before, 58 percent had never held a job for an entire year. Nearly one-fifth of the study sample lived in public housing (18 percent), and about a tenth of participants were not U. S. citizens, had a child, or had been convicted of a crime.

Approach: All participants were young adults who had applied to the program and were found eligible, but 60 were randomly placed on a waiting list and could reapply after 10 months. However, this control group was free to access other employment training programs or internships as they saw fit.

Demographic and income data were collected when the people applied for the program, and income and employment were tracked each quarter for two years. At the end of the second year, information on the characteristics of the participants’ current or most recent job was also collected, including full time status, benefits provided, and field.

Results: Year Up lowered incomes and reduced employed during the program year (p<0.05). However, Year Up increased incomes by 30 percent (p<0.1) in the second year, and there was no lasting impact on employment or college enrollment. Nearly two-thirds of the participants assigned to Year Up finished the program (64 percent).

By the end of the second year, Year Up had increased average wages in the current or most recent job by $2.26 (p<0.01), and had a positive impact on the likelihood that that the youth would be working full time (by 12 percentage points, p<0.1). Treatment group members were significantly more likely to hold jobs in information technology or investment operations than those in the control group. There were no significant impacts on the jobs’ benefits (either health insurance or tuition assistance).

Roder, A. & Elliott, M. (2014). Sustained gains: Year Up’s continued impact on young adults’ earnings. New York: Economic Mobility Corporation.

Evaluated population:

The sample for this four-year follow-up study was very similar to the two-year study described above, although 73 percent of the original participants responded to the four-year study for a final sample of 102 treatment group members and 41 control group members.

In this final sample of 143 participants, just over half (54 percent) were male, and about three-quarters (76 percent) were between the ages of 18 and 21. The remaining 24 percent were between the ages of 22 and 24. Just over half of participants (52 percent) were African American or black, and about one third (34 percent) were Latino. About four in ten (39 percent) were employed when they applied to the program, and, although a large majority (90 percent) had prior work experience, more than half (56 percent) had never worked in the same job for a full year. The highest degrees participants had received included GEDs (11 percent) and high school diplomas (89 percent), though some had attended college at some time. Seventeen percent of the study sample lived in public housing when they applied to the program. About one-tenth of participants were not U.S. citizens or had a child, and six percent had been convicted of a crime. For 16 percent of participants, English was not their primary language.

Approach: The processes for random assignment and data collection within the subsequent two years are described above. For this follow-up study, participants were interviewed about their employment and educational activities via telephone four years after randomization.

When control group participants were randomly assigned to the control condition, they were told that they could reapply to the Year Up program 10 months after they applied the first time. Some did so; just under one-third (29 percent) of the final sample received Year Up services during the second and third years after randomization. These control group members were still included in the final sample.

Results: Year Up had significant positive impacts on earnings by the third year after random assignment but not at the end of the study. Across years one through three, treatment group members had on average earned about $13,645 more than participants in the control group (p<0.05). However, differences in earnings between the treatment and control groups were not significant in year four. The program also had significant positive impacts on the likelihood of having worked in the targeted occupations during the four years after random assignment (49 percent in the treatment group versus 17 percent in the control group; p<0.01) and marginally significant positive impacts on the likelihood of having worked in the targeted occupations during September 2011 – the final month in the four-year period (34 percent in the treatment group versus 17 percent in the control group; p<0.10).

Additionally, at the end of the study, Year Up had significant positive impacts on receipt of financial assistance for college among those attending (90 percent in the treatment group versus 65 percent in the control group; p<0.05), significant positive impacts on interest in attending college among those who were not attending (92 percent in the treatment group versus 77 percent in the control group; p<0.05), and marginally significant positive impacts on availability of tuition assistance through participants’ employers (34 percent in the treatment group versus 17 percent in the control group; p<0.10).

Year Up participants were 19 percent less likely than control group members to attend training programs other than Year Up (p<0.05). In the final four-year follow-up survey, the program did not demonstrate significant impacts on employment rates, earnings, hours worked, employment benefits, college attendance, desire to work among those who were not employed, or confidence in finding a job among those who were not employed.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

Roder, A. & Elliott, M. (2011). A promising start: Initial impacts of Year Up on low-income young adults’ careers. New York: Economic Mobility Corporation.

Roder, A. & Elliott, M. (2014). Sustained gains: Year Up’s continued impact on young adults’ earnings. New York: Economic Mobility Corporation.

Website: http://www.yearup.org/

Contact Information

45 Milk St, 9th Floor

Boston, MA 02109

855-932-7871

KEYWORDS: Young Adults, Males and Females, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, High-Risk, Urban, Vocational Learning, Skills Training, College Enrollment/Preparation, Employment/Earnings, Cost

Program information last updated on 7/7/2016.

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