Examines the implementation and lessons learned from a program aimed at enhancing high school dropouts educational and employment outcomes.

This report covers the lessons learned from the implementation of the Los Angeles Reconnections Career Academy (LARCA), a program managed and funded by the Economic & Workforce Development Department (EWDD) of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board with the goal of “address[ing] the needs of over 1,000 dropout youth by providing participants with access to education and employment programs using a career pathways model, alongside case management services and other supports” (p.ES-1). The LARCA program services were delivered through six provider agencies, each chosen for “its experience in working with the dropout population, its geography, its experience delivering services similar to those prescribed by the LARCA program, and its own network of partner providers” (p.ES-2).

“The LARCA program employed an innovative and potentially effective model for successfully re-engaging dropout youth. While providers had some leeway in structuring the content and sequence of their LARCA program elements, they adhered to a standard set of activities: recruitment and intake, including eligibility and suitability screening; delivering case management and comprehensive services, including opportunities for work readiness training, life skills workshops, youth development activities; and providing participants with education, vocational training, and placement services” (p.ES-2).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff) 

Major Findings & Recommendations

Key accomplishments during the implementation phase of LARCA included: • “EWDD strengthened its relationships with other city and community entities, bolstering the network of agencies committed to serving Los Angeles’ disconnected youth” (p.ES-5). • “LARCA providers connected dropout youth with providers of critical support, education, and training services and, in the process, strengthened these providers’ capacity for serving this population” (p.ES-5). • “The education component of LARCA was largely successful in re-engaging youth in learning” (p.ES-5). Key challenges during the implementation phase of LARCA included: • “Providers found it challenging to adhere to a common program model” (p.ES-5). • “The compressed start-up period gave providers little time to develop new systems, and so they often had to rely on existing models and relationships” (p.ES-6). • “To buy the time needed to develop and implement components essential for start-up, providers often delayed planning the later-sequenced services until participants needed them” (p.ES-6). • “Some providers struggled to meet their recruitment and enrollment goals due to limited staff time for outreach, competing programs serving the same population, and lack of eligible youth in their catchment areas” (p.ES-6). • “Providers struggled to both engage and retain youth with significant barriers to successful participation in the LARCA program” (p.ES-6). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)