Ready for Work
In 2014, Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP; now known as VPP and Raise DC) collaborated with Prince George’s County, MD to launch Ready for Work, a multi-year initiative that aims to address the academic and employment needs of the county’s youth to ensure that they are college- and career-ready upon high school graduation. From the beginning, Child Trends partnered with VPP to evaluate the initiative.
The Ready for Work initiative is made up of three strategies:
- Strengthen career and technical education. This strategy aims to increase students’ technical and academic skills by enhancing the school system’s implementation of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at both the system and school levels.
- Expand the youthCONNECT model to Prince George’s County. VPP first developed the youthCONNECT model in 2010 with a Social Innovation Fund grant and partnered with Child Trends to secure funding and evaluate the model’s implementation. In 2013, the Prince George’s County Executive invited VPP and the nonprofit organizations that work together as youthCONNECT Network Partners to replicate the model in the county to strengthen youth outcomes, as a component of Ready for Work. youthCONNECT is designed to equip youth with foundational life skills that prepare them for adulthood. More specifically, it fosters collaboration among several nonprofits and school leaders to offer wraparound services—such as tutoring, job readiness training, and case management—within Prince George’s County high schools to increase high school success and improve students’ readiness for post-secondary education and employment.
- Provide real work experiences. This strategy connects youth with meaningful work experiences before they graduate from high school and relies on partnerships between VPP and the County’s Summer Youth Enrichment Program and with local employers.
Child Trends evaluated the implementation of Ready for Work to learn about challenges and successes across all three strategies. Child Trends also conducted an outcomes evaluation of the youthCONNECT model at Suitland High School, one of the three focal high schools for Ready for Work.
Read more about youthCONNECT at Suitland High School:
- Data sharing, incentives, and relationship building are critical components of using data to support student success
- Relationships with Caring Adults and Social and Emotional Strengths Are Related to High School Academic Achievement
- Nonprofit organizations and partnerships can support students during the COVID-19 crisis
- The youthCONNECT Integrated Student Supports Model Shows a Relationship Between Caring Adults and Students’ Academic Outcomes
Read more about the implementation of Ready for Work to learn about challenges and successes across all three strategies:
- Ready for Work’s Lessons for Investors Interested in Supporting Initiatives Designed to Improve Youth Outcomes
- Ready for Work’s Lessons for Backbone Organizations in School-Based Initiatives
- Lessons for Partners in School-Based Initiatives From Ready for Work at Suitland High School
- Productive Nonprofit Partnership Holds Lessons for College and Career Readiness Programs
- Lessons for Employer-School Partnerships to Provide Meaningful Youth Employment Opportunities
Child Trends previously conducted an implementation evaluation of the youthCONNECT initiative in Washington, DC, which VPP funded through a Social Innovation Fund grant.
Key project staff
Kristine Andrews (consultant)
Past staff: Isai Garcia-Baza, Megan Carney