The youthCONNECT Integrated Student Supports Model Shows a Relationship Between Caring Adults and Students’ Academic Outcomes

Research BriefYouth & Young AdultsDec 21 2022

youthCONNECT is an integrated student supports[i] initiative developed by Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP), a philanthropic organization in the Greater Washington, DC region, to address barriers to academic success for adolescents. This brief is the third in a series describing findings from an evaluation of youthCONNECT at Suitland High School, where the initiative was implemented from 2015 to 2020. Broadly, we found that youthCONNECT’s theory of change—or the framework underlying its efforts to enhance student outcomes—is valid. In other words, there is evidence supporting this theory of change—in particular, that the presence of a caring adult in a young person’s life is strongly associated with their academic success.


In this brief, we first describe the youthCONNECT initiative and its theory of change for improving students’ outcomes. To help policymakers and practitioners understand how we arrived at our findings, we briefly outline our analysis to test the validity of youthCONNECT’s theory of change. Next, we summarize the pathways by which the presence of a caring adult can improve student outcomes. Finally, for other researchers and practitioners interested in learning more about our work, the Detailed Findings and Methods section provides an in-depth description of our analysis of the youthCONNECT theory of change.


[i] Moore, K.A., Lantos, H., Jones, R., Schindler, A., Belford, J. & Sacks, V. (2017). Making the Grade: A Progress Report and Next Steps for Integrated Student Supports. Bethesda, MD: Child Trends;  Moore, K.A., Caal, S., Carney, R., Lippman, L., Li, W., Muenks, K., Murphey, D., Princiotta, D., Ramirez, A., Rojas, and Ryberg, R. (2014). Making the grade: Assessing the evidence for integrated student supports. Bethesda, MD: Child Trends; Sanders, M. Full-Service Community Schools Are Critical Investments for Children and Families in Poverty. Bethesda, MD: Child Trends.

Suggested Citation

Rackers, H., Jones, R., Sacks, V., Moore, K.A., & Redd, Z. (2022). The youthCONNECT integrated student supports model shows a relationship between caring adults and students’ academic outcomes. Child Trends.