A synthesis of reports produced from 2002 - 2006 about the Youth Opportunity (YO) Grant Initiative, which provided comprehensive services to at-risk youths in 36 urban, rural, and Native American reservation communities.

The Youth Opportunity (YO) Grant Initiative consisted of large and complex projects that provided comprehensive services to economically disadvantaged youths, ages 14 to 21, residing in high-poverty communities in urban, rural, and Native American reservation communities throughout the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska. The projects were intended to build the foundation for community-wide efforts to mobilize resources in helping youths to enter the economic mainstream. This impact report describes the outcomes and impacts of the Youth Opportunity (YO) projects on program participants and the YO communities. It compares youths living in the YO communities to two non-YO comparison groups:

• a group of census tracts that, through propensity selection, were deemed to be suitable matches for the non-Native American YO sites

• the Current Population Survey’s high-poverty central-city neighborhoods (compared to urban YO sites). (Abstractor: Author) 

Major Findings & Recommendations

"YO grantees made a concerted effort to reach and serve out-of-school youths (OSY), who have traditionally been very difficult to enroll in workforce programs. As a result, YO grantees enrolled about 52 percent of the eligible OSY in their respective communities. In addition, 26 percent of in-school-youths (ISY) in the 36 YO communities were enrolled in the YO programs, for an overall participation rate of just less than 34 percent of eligible youths over the 5-year period" (p. 115.) "Older youths and high-school graduates were more likely to have been placed than younger youths and high-school dropouts. Also, youths who participated for a greater number of hours and participated in more varied service activities were more likely to be placed" (p.116). "The educational impacts of YO were more substantial than the employment-related impacts. YO effects were significant in increasing school enrollment for a number of subgroups, including secondary-school enrollment for Hispanics and foreign-born youths, and increasing some postsecondary-school enrollments" (p. 116). (Abstractor: Author)