Summer Youth Employment Program

Diverse Volunteers cheerfully sorting food items

Large disparities exist in education and economic outcomes persist for youth from different parts of Washtenaw County. Summer jobs programs for at-risk-youth is a primary strategy for closing these gaps. Such programs provide income for youth and their families, provide structured summer activities, improve later academic performance and reduce criminal activity.

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This program leverages the University of Michigan as a large summer employer for youth, along with our ability to provide educational programming to rigorously assess the outcome using state-of-the-art social science techniques. Youth are placed in a variety of jobs across the scope of the U-M enterprise, to allow understanding of the impact of the nature of the work on outcomes. The program includes a robust enrichment program, including coaching for the youth employees, training for job supervisors, and required Friday programs for the youth. Through randomized studies, Poverty Solutions researchers will evaluate the program on a series of criteria, including comparison groups in otherwise similar summer jobs programs but without U-M placements or program components.

This is the first program of its kind to be conducted by a major university. The goal is to measure outcomes such as youth employee satisfaction, high-school attainment, permanent employment outcomes, college or vocational training enrollment, and also the changes in attitudes in the youth employee supervisors, and to translate those findings to inform youth jobs programs developed by institutions such as government agencies, and other kinds of large company job sites.

H. Luke Shaefer, U-M Poverty Solutions
Mary Jo Callan, U-M Ginsberg Center
University of Michigan Human Resources
University of Michigan Youth Policy Lab

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