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Evaluating violence-reduction and summer youth employment programs

This grant will allow Sara Heller, an assistant professor of economics at U-M, to expand on three current research projects that can provide evidence to guide the development of effective interventions aimed at low-income youth. 

  • Evaluation of Philadelphia WorkReady: Heller ran a randomized controlled trial of Philadelphia’s youth summer job program, called WorkReady, in the summers of 2017 and 2018 to see whether the job program reduced criminal justice involvement among youth, improved their educational outcomes, and reduced outcomes like use of mental health services, homeless shelters, and child protection services. This grant will support data analysis and reporting the results from that study. 
  • Reducing problem behaviors and improving employability in Job Corps: Job Corps is the nation’s largest education and job training program for youth who are neither employed nor in school. Heller is currently working with researchers at Harvard University to develop a randomized controlled trial examining how the use of cognitive behavioral therapy curriculum at Job Corps centers affects disciplinary incidents at the centers and youth employment after leaving Job Corps. This grant will support the launch of the pilot portion of that study. 
  • Peer effects to reduce youth crime and violence: Heller is beginning a new study that builds on multiple randomized controlled trials she’s run in the past to identify interventions that have reduced youth involved in the criminal justice system and violence in Chicago. This new study will identify the peer networks of co-offenders and co-victims and assess whether there’s spillover within a peer network after youth receive an intervention and change their behavior. This grant will support the early stages of that study. 

Sara Heller, U-M College of Literature, Science and the Arts