Year Up offered training and work experience in the information technology and investment operations fields to young adults to help them access careers with good pay and advancement opportunities.

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

Year Up offered training and work experience in the information technology and investment operations fields to young adults to help them access careers with good pay and advancement opportunities.

Year Up began with 21 weeks of technical skills training in areas such as information technology and financial operations. The program also included training in professional skills and classes in business writing and communication. Young adults could earn college credit for their coursework. Year Up participants were then placed in a six-month internship with companies in the region. Participants received a weekly stipend during both phases. Finally, participants were supported by program advisors, who helped students navigate Year Up ad with whom they met weekly for feedback; social workers, who connected them to other services; internship supervisors at their internship sites; and career mentors from outside of the program. Year Up also offered job search or college application assistance. As of 2020, Year Up continues to offer similar services to eligible participants.

Eligible Year Up applicants were low-income young adults aged 18 to 24. Year Up was evaluated in Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; New York City, NY; Providence, RI; San Francisco Bay Area, CA; and Seattle, WA; and Washington, DC. Year Up was part of the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education study which also evaluated the following career pathways programs: Bridge to Employment in the Healthcare Industry, Carreras en SaludHealth Careers for All, Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training, Pathways to Healthcare, Patient Care Pathway Program, Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement, and Workforce Training Academy Connect.

Year evaluation began: 2007
Populations and employment barriers: Young adults (aged 16-24)
Intervention services: Education, Sanctions, Supportive services, Training, Financial education, Occupational or sectoral training, Soft skills training, Work experience, Job search assistance, Job development/job placement
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 Supported favorable $10,605 per year 0.51 2496
Long-term Supported favorable $6,798 per year 0.33 2496
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Supported favorable 4% (in percentage points) 0.10 2496
Long-term Little evidence to assess support unfavorable -1% (in percentage points) -0.01 2496
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term No evidence to assess support
Long-term No evidence to assess support
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase education and training All measurement periods No evidence to assess support

Implementation Details

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Dates covered by study

Year Up was founded in 2000 and has been implementing the model that was the subject of the study since 2001. Study intake occurred between January 2013 and August 2014. The study covered service delivery from 2013 through 2015 and measured impacts up to three years after study intake.

Organizations implementing intervention

Year Up is a national nonprofit organization with locations offering program services in 16 states and with national offices located in Boston, MA and New York, NY. Its mission is to close the opportunity divide for young adults without a path to a stable career by helping them gain skills, experience, and support. Eight locations implementing the original version of Year Up’s model served as sites for the study. (Other Year Up locations offering an adapted version of the model were not part of the study.)

Populations served

Year Up served so-called opportunity youth—youth disconnected from or underconnected to school or work—with the potential to overcome their barriers and enter a professional career. To be eligible, youth had to be between 18 and 24, have a high school diploma or the equivalent, and have a legal right to work in the U.S. More than half of the study sample (59 percent) were men; about a half were Black (54 percent) and nearly a third were Hispanic (31 percent); just under half had some college (45 percent) or an associate’s degree or higher (3 percent); 9 percent had children; and close to two-thirds (63 percent) were in families with incomes below $30,000. Year Up was not a mandatory program. It recruited participants largely via advertising, marketing, community outreach, and word of mouth.

Description of services implemented

Year Up is a yearlong program with the goal of preparing participants to succeed in career-track employment and higher education. It delivers training in two phases—a 21-week learning and development phase and a 6-month internship phase—and offers a variety of supports. Services included the following:

  • Learning and development. During the first phase, Year Up provided instruction in occupational skills, business communication, and professional skills. The occupational focus differed by site; areas included information technology, quality assurance, financial operations, project management, and customer service. The business communications instruction ranged from basic reading, writing, and critical thinking in professional environments to public speaking and the language and culture of corporate workplaces. The professional skills instruction focused on workplace etiquette and behavior and preparation for the internships, and it included sessions on financial literacy. Although Year Up delivered the trainings, partner colleges granted credits (and in some sites, certificates) for some courses. Local offices had flexibility in choosing curricula for the courses, but colleges reviewed them before agreeing to offer credit for the courses.
  • Internship. For the second phase, Year Up arranged and matched participants with internships with local employers that were related to the occupational training and that provided hands-on work experience. Participants worked full-time 4.5 days a week and returned to Year Up on the other half day for group activities, meetings with advisors, and job searching.
  • Weekly stipend. Participants received stipends of $150 per week during the first phase and $220 per week during the second phase (with the amounts differing in some offices) to offset costs of participating in the program (for example, transportation). The program also incentivized professional behavior by reducing stipend amounts for infractions related to unexcused absences, lateness, inappropriate dress, behavior, and incomplete assignments.
  • Weekly advising. Participants met weekly with an assigned staff advisor throughout both phases of the program. Advisors had flexibility as to the nature of these meetings.
  • Mentoring. Participants also met one to two times per month with an outside mentor from the local business community who provided career-related advice and personal guidance.
  • Social services. Social workers and mental health professionals helped participants identify potential barriers to completing the program and worked with them to access supports and resources to help them succeed.
  • Social supports. The program promoted peer support by grouping participants in learning communities of about 40 students within a cohort and establishing interactive group activities for participants to support and provide feedback to one another.
  • Employment assistance. Year Up provided job search assistance and placement activities for up to four months after participants completed the internship.

In addition, Year Up actively fostered an organizational culture that emphasized values such as respect for others, accountability, hard work, and commitment to learning. It also incorporated practices and concepts from business and a business environment throughout the program.

Service intensity

Year Up was a highly intensive program that provided a year of full-time or near full-time services to each individual, consisting of a variety of trainings and supports. Three-quarters of intervention group members in the study completed the two phases of the program. Year Up also provided up to four months of post-program follow-up employment assistance.

Comparison conditions

Members of the comparison group could access alternative employment and training services, including some for free, provided by colleges and community-based organizations in each site’s community. Many of these services combined job readiness and placement with technical skills training, but only some involved work experience. Fifty-seven percent of comparison group members surveyed had received education and training in a period of about 18 months after entering the study compared with 79 percent of intervention group members.

Partnerships

College partners. Each Year Up local office partnered with a local college that granted credits for the occupational skills and business communication courses. Those involved in the study included Atlanta Metropolitan College, Bellevue College, Cambridge College, Community College of Rhode Island, Foothill College, Harold Washington College, Northern Virginia Community College, and State University of New York Empire State College.

Employer partners. Employers provided internships for Year Up participants and gave feedback on interns’ performance. Employers also provided input on program design. In some locations, volunteers from employers served as guest speakers and led workshops for participants. Employers hosting interns financially supported Year Up through payments to the organization for each intern.

Staffing

Each Year Up local office had about 40 staff. Staff involved in delivering the program included the following:

  • Admissions staff
  • Instructors
  • Learning community leaders, who led weekly activities focused on peer feedback, sharing experiences, and accountability
  • Student services staff, including social workers and mental health professionals, who helped participants address barriers to success in the program
  • Corporate partnership staff responsible for working with employers
  • Career placement and alumni support staff responsible for job placements and ongoing support for the first four months after graduation

Leaders in the national and local offices often had degrees in business or management. In many sites, college partners required that the instructors have a master’s degree in the area in which they were teaching. The student services staff included social workers with master’s degrees.

In addition to their main roles, all staff also served as advisors assigned to four to eight participants. Further, outside professionals volunteered as mentors to Year Up participants.

Local context

Year Up’s central office is in Boston, MA with another national office in New York, NY. The eight study sites, covering nine metropolitan areas, involved in the study were Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; New York; Providence; the San Francisco Bay Area (including the San Francisco and San Jose metropolitan areas); Seattle; and Washington, DC. Economic and demographic characteristics varied by location.

Fidelity measures

The study did not discuss any tools to measure fidelity to the intervention model.

Funding source

Employers hosting interns made weekly payments to Year Up to help cover its costs. This financed 59 percent of per-participant costs. The rest came from foundation grants (22 percent), private donations from companies and individuals (17 percent), and public funds (less than 2 percent).

Cost information

Year Up’s per-participant costs were $28,290 in the 2013 to 2014 period (measured in those years’ dollars), reflecting local staff costs (46 percent), stipends to participants (23 percent), other local program expenses (20 percent), and national office costs (11 percent). The study did not discuss a comparison of costs and benefits, but noted that such a comparison is planned for a future report.

Studies of this Intervention

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Study Quality Rating Study Counts per Rating
Low Low 1
High High 1