Using ecological qualitative research methods, this study examines how the federally funded Summer Youth Employment Program impacted the lives of urban youth during their transition from adolescence to adulthood
“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided over a billion dollars to state workforce investment systems for creating employment opportunities for disadvantaged youth and every state was responsible for developing structured programs to connect youth to employers who would not only provide income for the youth, but also aid in their occupational skill development (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, 2009). [With the support of ARRA funding], the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas (WASCK) developed the Area IV Kansas Summer Youth Employment Programs (SYEP), under the direction [of] Congress and the Kansas Department of Commerce, and over two summers created over seven hundred job opportunities for disadvantaged youth. This study…gathered the perspectives of ten adolescents, 18 or older, who participated in the 2010 federally funded SYEP, through the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas” (p.vii).  “The purpose of this study is three-pronged. First, the study described the ecosystems of a group of urban youth who participated in a summer youth employment program. Second, the study focused specifically on how adults, the institutional agents who were associated with the SYEP, influenced the youth. Third, the study focused on the effect the summer youth program had on this ecosystem”. (p.11).  (Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The qualitative research points to several findings: • “Learning the ecosystems of individuals can provide insights into their daily lives, their history, and their lived experiences in a way that provides a window into how services and prevention efforts can be targeted toward them” (p.118). • “People can make a difference in the lives of others and supportive institutional agents can have a profound effect on one’s ability to gain social capital and work toward goal setting and attainment” (p.120) • “Programs, such as the SYEP, make a difference in the lives of youth and help them make connections to positive institutional agents, learn workplace dynamics and dialogue, and provide them with [an] entrance into areas of the workforce that have historically been preserved for the higher level working class and middle class” (p.122) • All of 10 youth interviewed for this study said positive things about the Summer Youth Employment Program, and only two youth had negative experiences. (p.124) • “Impediments to social capital development for youth are the results of poverty, lack of education, parental unemployment, lack of parental education, and insufficient access to community-based services and programs” (p.125). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)