Year Up is an intensive program serving young people ages 18 to 24 from low-income urban communities that provides a combination of training, work experience, college credit and support services; the report offers findings from a study of the program’s impacts and explores implications for policy and programming in the youth employment and training field.
"Year Up, a non-profit organization headquartered in Boston, was founded by a former software entrepreneur in 2000 to provide a year of training and work experience to urban young adults ages 18 to 24. It has been able to develop a network of program sites across the country without the constraints imposed by public funding. Initial results from a small-scale impact study conducted by Mobility demonstrate that Year Up students experience remarkable earnings gains after a year in the labor market, compared to a control group. These gains were achieved during one of the worst economic recessions in recent memory, a recession that hit young people particularly hard. Also, the Year Up experience does not deter young people from pursuing further education—program participants are just as likely to enroll in postsecondary education as control group members.

It is important to note that the Year Up model entails a substantial investment in young people, combining an intensive training curriculum with a range of social, emotional, and financial supports for students, staff who are committed to the program’s philosophy and goals, and strong relationships with the employer community. Many questions remain, including whether the gains will be sustained over time, if the program can be replicated more widely, and whether Year Up can maintain program quality as it increases the share of its revenue from public sources." (Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

"During the second year after random assignment—the year after the program took place—the annual earnings of the Year Up participants were $3,461, or 30 percent greater, on average, than those of control group members ($15,082 versus $11,621, respectively). Year Up participants earned an average of $2.26 more per hour than did control group members. Year Up participants’ current or most recent jobs were also more likely to be full-time (35 hours or more per week) than control group members’ jobs. Year Up graduates earned significantly higher wages than participants who dropped out of the program ($13.54 an hour versus $10.96 an hour). Overall, one quarter of the Year Up participants (44 percent of program graduates) were hired either by their internship employer or by another employer partner. The findings support the growing body of evidence that sector-based job training programs can have a significant positive impact on the earnings of less-skilled, low-income workers. Two key features of Year Up are that it designed a curriculum that meets the needs of its corporate partners, and it obtains employer commitments to sponsor and provide on-the-job training to student interns, many of whom obtain regular jobs with their employers after program completion. The respectful manner in which staff members interact with students when providing both positive and negative feedback, making the students more receptive to the messages about what they need to do to succeed. The program’s ability to produce results in the form of well-paying opportunities at leading firms that otherwise were out of reach to the young people. Programs need to demonstrate that they can provide access to better opportunities than people can obtain on their own. A key aspect of Year Up is the multiple opportunities it offers young people to receive support and guidance from adults, whether through program staff, social workers, workplace supervisors, or mentors from outside of the program. The stipends Year Up offers can help students cover some of their expenses while providing an incentive for abiding by the program’s attendance and other rules, which is required for students to receive the full amount." (p.8-13) (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)