• -0.10,1.00
  • -0.13,2.00
  • -0.02,1.00
  • -0.10,2.00
  • 0.05,1.00

To facilitate educational advancement and employment, the LARCA program provided case management, training, employment services, and supportive services to youth with low incomes who were at risk of dropping out or who had already dropped out of high school.

To facilitate educational advancement and employment, the LARCA program provided case management, training, employment services, and supportive services to youth with low incomes who were at risk of dropping out or who had already dropped out of high school

LARCA provided participating youth with case managers who worked with the youth to develop and monitor individualized plans identifying services that could improve youth’s life skills and work-readiness. These plans included educational services that helped individuals achieve secondary diplomas or equivalents, financial literacy training, supportive services, vocational training (specifically, construction, green technology, and health care training), and employment services (including work-readiness training, paid work experiences, and employment search and placement services). The LARCA program provided all of these services to participants directly, or through partner organizations. Providers also connected youth to local postsecondary institutions and private vocational programs in various sectors. LARCA participants could receive program services for 12 to 34 months, depending on the date of program enrollment. Follow-up services were available for at least six additional months. Program participants were youth with low incomes between the ages of 16 and 24 who had dropped out of high school or were assessed to be at a high risk of dropping out because of chronic absenteeism and below-grade-level performance. LARCA also required participants to be eligible to work in the United States and to be living in Los Angeles County, the location in which the program was administered.

Year evaluation began: 2013
Populations and employment barriers: Less than high school diploma or GED, Young adults (aged 16-24)
Intervention services: Case management, Academic instruction, Supportive services, Training, Financial education, Occupational or sectoral training, Soft skills training, Work experience, Work readiness activities, Job search assistance, Job development/job placement
Setting(s): Urban only

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 Little evidence to assess support unfavorable $-1,067 per year -0.051 1992
Long-term Not supported unfavorable $-2,740 per year -0.131 1247
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Supported This intervention was assessed as supported for this domain, meaning it achieved one or more statistically significant, favorable effects.  However, the intervention has an average effect size that is unfavorable because the average includes all effects in this domain - both statistically significant and favorable effects and statistically insignificant but unfavorable effects. * -1% (in percentage points) -0.024 1992
Long-term Not supported unfavorable -4% (in percentage points) -0.095 1247
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term Not supported unfavorable $272 per year 0.099 1992
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable $-28 per year -0.010 1247
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase education and training All measurement periods Supported favorable 3% (in percentage points) 0.053 2078

Participant race and ethnicity
Black or African American
White, not Hispanic
Hispanic or Latino of any race
Another race
More than one race
Unknown or not reported

Implementation details

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Dates covered by study

The LARCA intervention operated from January 2013 to October 2015. LARCA service providers continued to provide follow-up services until April 2016. The enrollment period for the intervention began in January 2013 and ended in October 2014. The study measured outcomes for up to one year after random assignment for the whole study sample and for up to two years for part of the sample.

Organizations implementing intervention

The Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD) of Los Angeles designed the LARCA model and provided guidance and management to six agencies to implement a core set of activities. Each agency adhered to EWDD’s LARCA program model but was given the freedom to structure the content and sequence of their services. The six agencies were:

  • The Coalition for Responsible Community Development (CRCD), a faith-based nonprofit organization that provides an array of services including housing, workforce, education training, and supportive services.

  • LA Conservation Corps, a nonprofit organization that provides environment and conservation work opportunities for youth.

  • Youth Opportunity Movement–Boyle Heights (YO! Boyle Heights) and Youth Opportunity Movement–Watts (YO! Watts), the Los Angeles Youth Opportunity Movement grant programs, serve youth through other established programs such as Workforce Investment Act (WIA) youth and adult programs.

  • Youth Policy Institute–San Fernando Valley and Youth Policy Institute–Pico Union, nonprofit organizations that provide education, case management, and career training to at-risk youth.

Populations served

LARCA served youth with low incomes in Los Angeles County who were between the ages of 16 to 24, were eligible to work in the United States and had dropped out of high school, or were considered chronically absent students performing below grade level. LARCA providers recruited participants through community outreach, referrals from other agencies, and dropout lists from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

A little more than half (52 percent) of LARCA participants were female. Seventy-six percent were Hispanic or Latino of any race, and 21 percent were Black or African American, not Hispanic. About one-third (32 percent) were pregnant or parents.

Description of services implemented

The LARCA intervention provided a robust array of services to youth to increase access to education and employment. Participants’ engagement with LARCA services varied by their interests, goals, and level of educational attainment. Providers of the LARCA intervention had significant flexibility and autonomy in implementing and structuring their services, including its frequency and duration. These were the core standard set of services of the LARCA program model:

  • Case management. Case managers helped participants create personal, educational, and career goals and navigate resources and supportive services available through the LARCA partnerships.

  • Work-readiness activities. Participants could receive supplemental training through eight hours of work-readiness preparation and certification to gain workplace, social, and professional skills.

  • Soft-skills training. Program participants had access to workshops on parenting and other life skills, such as conflict resolution, anger management, and sexual health, that taught them how to navigate life circumstances.

  • Financial literacy. Program participants were required to complete financial management training consisting of workshops in budgeting, earnings, savings and asset building, introduction to credit cards, understanding the credit system and checking accounts.

  • Youth development activities. Participants could partake in youth development activities consisting of leadership opportunities, peer mentoring, public speaking, and serving on youth councils.

  • Education services. Participants were offered education-related services to obtain a high school diploma or the High School Equivalency Test credential.

  • Vocational training. Participants could receive certified vocational training in health, construction, conservation, and green technology offered by community colleges, adult schools, occupational training centers, and private schools.

  • Job and postsecondary education placement. The postsecondary education placement services allowed participants to continue vocational training or postsecondary education upon receiving their high school diploma to advance in their careers and attain employment. Participants could also receive concurrent job search assistance and placement in part-time employment while attending school.

  • Follow-up services. Participants who completed the program received follow-up services that consisted of regular contact with coaches for supportive services such as transportation assistance and housing, assistance with job retention and advancing education, and professional development peer support groups.

Challenges. LARCA service providers addressed implementation challenges related to securing housing for participants, engaging participants in program services, and having participants complete academic and vocational training. Service providers offered one-time housing stipends or obtained guaranteed housing for LARCA participants through partnerships with local housing organizations. All LARCA programs used Pupil Services and Attendance (PSA) counselors—who were master’s level social workers or counselors employed by LAUSD and placed at LARCA sites—to assist with recruitment and enrollment, monitoring students who were chronically absent and engaging those who dropped out. Providers and PSA counselors implemented back-to-school workshops to re-engage absentee participants. Furthermore, LARCA programs eliminated specific requirements, such as mandating academic credentials before enrolling in vocational training, in hopes of removing potential barriers to completing the credential program.

Several changes to the intervention occurred during the study period. The original design of LARCA emphasized employment placement services as the last phase of the program, but the focus shifted more toward combining employment services and postsecondary education after program operators found that the job placements alone did not generally lead to a living wage or meaningful career path. Ultimately, providers primarily helped participants find part-time jobs while they attended school rather than helping them find full-time employment. One provider increased the frequency of pre-enrollment program orientations (during which potential applicants learned about the LARCA program and eligibility criteria) and held them all in a central location to address attrition during the intake process. Furthermore, soft-skills workshops were not initially part of the LARCA model, but service providers chose to deliver these services because they were already providing them before implementing LARCA, and they believed the workshops would benefit LARCA participants.

Service intensity

Study participants could receive up to two years of service (excluding the six-month follow-up period) until October 2015, when the program ended.

The frequency and duration of the case management, comprehensive services, education, training, and placement services varied among service providers. For example, the frequency of meetings with case managers ranged from weekly to as-needed. The average participant had more than 15 sessions with their case manager. The work-readiness training at most intervention sites was 8 hours. Secondary education provision varied from 1 month to more than 42 months, and participants spent 12 to 35 hours in class per week.

Comparison conditions

Youth randomly assigned to the comparison group received a referral list, and some also had access to other youth services such as the WIA youth program, which offered similar services to the LARCA program by the same service providers. Most of the comparison group (87 percent) received WIA youth services. The WIA youth program services were less intensive and shorter term than LARCA services. WIA served only out-of-school youth, had a higher inclination toward secondary education (compared to others with a focus on employment and training), and served participants between the ages of 14 to 21. Lastly, WIA only served participants who resided in Los Angeles, whereas LARCA accepted participants from Los Angeles County.


Several partner organizations provided education, training, counseling services, or supplies. Key partners at the system or provider level included the following:

  • LAUSD partially funded counselors who helped with recruitment and enrollment, helped monitor students who were chronically absent, and engaged those who dropped out. The district also offered GED classes to participants.

  • Several colleges within the Los Angeles Community College District provided work-readiness training, vocational training, and job placement support for LARCA providers.

  • The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce helped develop the curriculum for the work-readiness certificate and connected service providers to health care employment training and other opportunities.

  • Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board (WIB) oversaw the LARCA program and helped EWDD better implement the LARCA program by connecting EWDD and LARCA staff to resources and opportunities within the city workforce system.

  • Various charter schools provided high school courses for program recipients at all provider sites.


Staffing structures varied by service provider. All providers had two to three case managers; a program manager and an intermediary manager who supervised the programs or managed day-to-day operations; and at least one employment specialist, college coordinator, or career coach. The total number of staff at each site varied from 4 to 10, with between 2 and 8 full-time staff. The study authors did not include information on the training, degrees, or certifications of staff.

Local context

The LARCA intervention took place in sites throughout the city and county of Los Angeles. Most service providers operated in areas with high concentrations of poverty. In addition, several intervention locations reported high proportions of undocumented youth from their dropout list. These youth were ineligible to participate in the intervention, so program staff had to conduct nearly daily recruitment activities to meet their goals for enrolling eligible youth.

Fidelity measures

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

Funding source

The U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Innovation Fund (WIF) federal grants funded EWDD and Los Angeles WIB to implement the LARCA intervention from July 2012 to October 2015. Some providers braided WIF funds with WIA funds from Los Angeles and other youth program funding sources within their organization. The WIF grant is a one-time funding source, and there were no additional funds for extending the intervention.

Cost information

The cost per participant of the LARCA intervention was $9,563 (in August 2012 dollars) when including only WIF grant funds for program costs. LARCA cost $10,273 per participant when including leveraged resources from other grants, private funding, and in-kind donations from community partners who delivered key service programs such as vocational training, education, and supportive services. The study did not discuss a comparison of costs and benefits.

Studies of this intervention

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Study quality rating Study counts per rating
High High 1