Skip to main content
U-M Poverty Solutions Logo U-M Poverty Solutions Logo


Evaluating the Young Black Men, Masculinities, and Mental Health (YBMen) Project

The Young Black Men, Masculinities, and Mental Health (YBMen) Project is a global movement that centers the voices, experiences, and realities of Black men and boys. At the core of the YBMen Project is a social media-based program that delivers mental health education and social support to participants through timely, culturally sensitive, age-appropriate, and gender-specific content (e.g., YouTube, photos, memes, GIFs, song lyrics, and current headlines).

This project will evaluate data from the past seven years of the YBMen Project to explore how contextual factors shape the use and success of the YBMen program by Black men and boys. The project aims to inform inequities among educational systems for Black men and boys and the ways in which the YBMen Project fills this gap. 

Daphne Watkins, School of Social Work

The Effect of Letters of Recommendation in the Youth Labor Market

The project: Employment among young people is slower to recover after shocks like recessions, and unemployment and disconnection rates are 30-80% higher for Black and Hispanic youth than for their White peers. In a working paper, Sara Heller and Judd Kessler tested whether providing youth with personalized recommendation letters from supervisors in New York City’s Summer Youth Employment Program improves employment. The experiment automated the creation of letters by sending supervisors an online survey about youths’ strengths and turning their responses into full-text letters using a prototype software tool. Their research found that youth randomly assigned to receive a letter had higher employment and earnings in the two years after letter distribution, with effects concentrated among minorities. Given that providing a credible signal about a young person’s existing strengths increases earnings, especially for minorities, something like this program could be a scalable way to reduce poverty and racial employment gaps among young workers.

The process: Based on those preliminary findings, this project will work with a volunteer software development group, Code4Community at Northeastern University, to develop a freely-available, user-friendly version of the letter-generation tool that will be distributed to youth development and job training programs.

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

Faculty Grant Program to Prevent and Alleviate Poverty

This is an open grant funding opportunity for faculty at University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses to pursue research projects focused on strategies to address poverty with effective, real-world solutions. Proposals are reviewed on a rolling basis.

Faculty Request for Proposals (PDF)