The latest analysis of Boston’s Summer Youth Employment Program, which employs over 10,000 Boston youth ages 14-22 with over 900 local employers each summer, finds that program participation is linked to improved academic and economic outcomes, as well as a decline in criminal activity. The report, released today by the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development (OWD), found that many of the largest gains were made among youth of color.

Criminal Justice Outcomes
  • Arraignments for violent crime dropped by 35% relative to a control group in the 17 months following program participation
  • Arraignments for property crime dropped by 57% over the same period
  • The greatest reductions in these arraignments were seen for African-American and Hispanic males
Academic Outcomes
  • Participants showed 4.5 fewer unexcused school days on average than a control group
  • Larger improvements in attendance were found among older (16+), male and Hispanic students
Economic Outcomes
  • Employment rates and wages for African-American males were higher after participation, relative to the control group

The report, “Reducing Inequality Summer by Summer: An Analysis of the Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Boston’s Summer Youth Employment Program,” is based on data collected by OWD in collaboration with Alicia Sasser Modestino, a researcher at Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy.

The study not only tracks long-term outcomes, but also compares them with participants’ short-term survey results to determine how the Summer Youth Employment Program might effect change. These comparisons found that:

  • Larger decreases in violent and property crimes were correlated with self-reported improvements in social end emotional skills, such as learning to manage emotions and resolve conflict.
  • Employment rates increased more rapidly after program participation for those who reported improvements in job readiness skills.

The multiyear evaluation of Boston’s Summer Youth Employment Program is sponsored and funded by OWD, Northeastern University, and the William T. Grant Foundation, which recently awarded a grant to support the study’s examination of mechanisms for reducing inequity. Future phases of the research will seek to determine which specific features of the Summer Youth Employment Program contribute to positive outcomes.

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