• 0.09,4.00
  • -0.01,1.00
  • 0.06,4.00
  • 0.05,4.00

YouthBuild provided education, training, and other supportive services to youth with low income who were disconnected from high school and from the workforce. The program's goal was to reengage youth in employment and education.

YouthBuild is currently offering some services remotely in response to COVID-19
YouthBuild is currently offering some services remotely in response to COVID-19

YouthBuild provided education, training, and other supportive services to youth with low income who were disconnected from high school and from the workforce. The program's goal was to reengage youth in employment and education.

YouthBuild programs provided four main categories of services: (1) a combination of educational services designed to lead to a high school diploma or an equivalent credential such as a GED; (2) vocational training in construction or another in-demand industry; (3) youth development services focused on leadership training and community service; and (4) supportive services to help individuals participate in training and employment, including case management, workforce preparation, life skills training, counseling, and stipends for participation. The YouthBuild model is designed to allow variation based on program and community contexts. As of 2020, YouthBuild continues to offer similar services to eligible participants.

Programs had screening processes that included assessments such as basic skills tests and interviews. As part of the screening process, each program administered a Mental Toughness Orientation to youth were selected for the program, which lasted an average of 10 days and was designed to assess applicants' motivation and willingness to change. Random assignment could occur before, during, or after the orientation, depending on the program. Most programs lasted a total of 6 to 12 months. YouthBuild focused on youth ages 16 to 24 who are disconnected, meaning they had dropped out of high school and were either from a low-income or migrant family, were in foster care, had disabilities, had justice system involvement, or had parents who were incarcerated. The program was implemented in 75 local programs within 29 U.S. states, DC, and the Virgin Islands.

Year evaluation began: 2011
Populations and employment barriers: Young adults (aged 16-24)
Intervention services: Case management, Education, Employment retention services, Financial incentives, Health services, Supportive services, Training, Occupational or sectoral training, Soft skills training, On-the-job training, Work experience, Work readiness activities, Job search assistance
Setting(s): Tested in multiple settings

Effectiveness rating and effect by outcome domain

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Outcome domain Term Effectiveness rating Effect in 2018 dollars and percentages Effect in standard deviations Sample size
Increase earnings Short-term Not supported unfavorable $-105 per year -0.005 3878
Long-term Supported favorable $1,360 per year 0.065 3878
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Little evidence to assess support favorable 1% (in percentage points) 0.032 3878
Long-term Supported favorable 4% (in percentage points) 0.090 3878
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term Little evidence to assess support unfavorable $105 per year 0.038 2845
Long-term Little evidence to assess support unfavorable $33 per year 0.012 2721
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase education and training All measurement periods Supported favorable 2% (in percentage points) 0.047 3929

Effects over time by outcome domain

9
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Size and direction of effects
Services were delivered for 9 months
Moderate-to-large favorable effect Small favorable effect
No effect
Small unfavorable effect Moderate-to-large unfavorable effect
Hollow data points indicate average effects that may be due to chance.

Services were delivered for 9 months

Years since the start of service delivery Size of the effect on benefit receipt Size of the effect on earnings Size of the effect on employment Size of the effect on education and training
0.00
0.25
0.50
0.75
1.00 Small unfavorable effect 0.04 Small unfavorable effect -0.01~ Small favorable effect 0.03
1.25
1.50
1.75
2.00
2.25
2.50
2.75
3.00
3.25
3.50
3.75
4.00 Small unfavorable effect 0.01 Small favorable effect 0.06~ Small favorable effect 0.09* Small favorable effect 0.05~
4.25
4.50
4.75
5.00

Participant race and ethnicity
Black or African American
63%
White
15%
Hispanic or Latino of any race
15%
Another race
6%

Implementation details

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Dates covered by study

Study enrollment took place from August 2011 through January 2013, and individuals were followed for four years after enrollment, including for more than two years after ending program participation.

Organizations implementing intervention

YouthBuild USA is a national organization that provides technical assistance, training, funding assistance, and program fidelity support to programs across the YouthBuild network. During the study period, most YouthBuild programs were implemented by local or regional nonprofit organizations. Implementing organizations included community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies.

Populations served

YouthBuild served disconnected youth with low income. All individuals enrolled were ages 16 to 24. To be eligible for YouthBuild, most participants needed to have left high school without a diploma and meet at least one of the following additional criteria: be from a low-income or migrant family, be currently in or aging out of foster care, have prior justice system involvement, have a disability, or have an incarcerated parent. The majority of participants were male (64 percent) and Black or African American, not Hispanic (63 percent). Fifteen percent were Hispanic or Latino of any race, and 15 percent were White, not Hispanic. The average age was 20, and 30 percent were parents. The majority of participants had dropped out of high school after completing the 10th (26 percent) or 11th (35 percent) grade. Participation was voluntary.

Description of services implemented

YouthBuild provided four primary categories of services that were designed to reengage disconnected youth in employment and education:

  • Educational services that would lead to a high school diploma or equivalent credential.

  • Vocational training in construction or another in-demand industry (for example, health care, computer technology, or culinary arts).

  • Youth development services focused on leadership training and community service.

  • Additional services that would broadly help individuals participate in training and secure employment. On average, programs provided stipends of $467 every four weeks for program participation. Additional services included supportive services, such as assistance with transportation or child care; one-on-one case management; workforce preparation; life skills training; counseling; and follow-up services.

The program was designed so individual programs could fit the model into their community context. Programs reported that the economic downturn around the time of the study made it challenging to identify opportunities for vocational training in construction. Programs also felt that staffing was a challenge, as training staff often felt overburdened by too many responsibilities and the fluctuating number of participants. Finally, many staff and participants stated that difficulty finding transportation was a barrier to attendance for participants.

Service intensity

Most programs were 6 to 12 months long, with an initial Mental Toughness Orientation lasting an average of 10 days. On average, participants remained in the program for 8 months. Participants could receive follow-up services for up to 12 months after completing the program.

Comparison conditions

Youth assigned to the comparison group were given information on services available in the community that they could pursue on their own. Youth in the comparison group were prohibited from enrolling in the YouthBuild program for two years after random assignment but were able to access similar services in their communities.

Partnerships

Programs often partnered with external organizations to offer training opportunities, including construction training. The YouthBuild model also required programs to partner with postsecondary educational institutions. Finally, many YouthBuild programs partnered with colleges so participants could access college coursework.

Staffing

Programs had about 10 staff members each, on average. Staffing structures varied across the programs, and programs often had flexible staffing arrangements. Small programs often required staff to fill multiple roles, whereas larger programs typically had more staff who were able to specialize in one role. Some programs did not maintain stability in their staffing arrangements, largely because of challenges securing funding. The study authors did not include information on staff training, degrees, or certifications.

Local context

YouthBuild was tested in multiple settings. The 75 programs that participated in the study were in 29 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, DC. About half of the programs were in or near major urban centers, and about one-fifth were in rural areas.

Fidelity measures

The study authors measured fidelity using a tool that rated local programs on 61 (of 132) design standards required by YouthBuild USA and combined the ratings for each program for a final score that ranged from 0 to 100. Overall fidelity was high, with most programs receiving a final score of at least 80.

Funding source

All programs included in the evaluation received funding from the U.S. Department of Labor, the Corporation for National and Community Service, or both. The programs supplemented these funds with financial support from private foundations and state or local entities.

Cost information

The average cost per participant was $16,965. The cost per YouthBuild participant was $12,820 higher than the per-person cost of comparison services. YouthBuild’s benefit to society was estimated to be $1,418 to $50,241 per participant, primarily based on a wide range of estimates of participants’ future earnings.

Studies of this intervention

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Study quality rating Study counts per rating
High High 1