Opportunities Youth Demonstration and Evaluation Implementation Evaluation: Findings from Pilot…

Author(s): Koball, Heather; Dodkowitz, Alan; Schlecht, Colleen; and Guiltinan, Shannon.

Organizational Author(s): Urban Institute and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

Funding Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

Resource Availability: Publically available

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Summary

Provides project findings from an implementation study conducted in Baltimore and Boston. The projects were designed to help youth aged 18 to 24 reconnect or stay connected with school through the use of caring adult staff, opportunities to gain degrees and certification, and contextualized learning.

Description

“The US Department of Labor…funded the Opportunities Youth…project to develop, pilot, and evaluate innovative interventions [in Baltimore and Boston] that aim to improve long-term employment outcomes for opportunity youth or those at risk of being disconnected from education or the labor market. The project defines opportunity youth as young people between the ages of 18 and 24 who are not in school, are at risk of dropping out of school, or are unemployed” (p.vi). “This report describes the recruitment of program participants, their characteristics, the services they received, and their short-term academic and employment outcomes based on data collected during the implementation phase. [The authors] also describe contextual factors in Baltimore and Boston that helped or hindered implementation” (p.viii-ix).

During the conceptual phase of the project, the study “team identified three key features of promising programs for opportunity youth:

• A caring adult to assist students in overcoming barriers to program participation…
• Opportunities for education and job training that lead to degrees and certifications.
• Contextualized learning…” (p.vii).

Through conversations with pilot site staff, the study team “identified gaps in services for opportunity youth. The pilot sites developed models for the pilot programs, incorporating the key program components [above], to fill these gaps” (p.viii).

“Both pilot programs partnered with a local community college to provide education and job training services to help participants earn degrees and certifications. They used the caring adult model to support students and provide guidance in learning life skills and soft skills, to help them navigate education and training services, to refer them to support services, and to connect them with employers. The pilot program in Baltimore also incorporated contextualized learning….Baltimore’s program integrated…GED…courses and basic workplace skills along with specialized training for employment certifications and credentials” (p.viii).

“The program in Boston, Getting Connected, began in January 2015 and ended in December 2015. The program in Baltimore, C4, began in January 2015 and ended in February 2016” (p.viii).

Full Publication Title: Opportunities Youth Demonstration and Evaluation
Implementation Evaluation: Findings from Pilot Sites in Baltimore and Boston

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

“The programs grew out of one conceptual approach but were shaped by the contexts in which they were implemented and the populations they served.…Thus, the two pilot sites diverged in their focus, their recruitment strategies, and the services they offered. A key commonality between the programs, however, was the importance of the relationship between the students and the caring adults” (p.xi). The study reported a number of findings:

•“…programs were nested within larger systems of resources, which helped students access a range of services they needed” (p.xi).
•“Strong partnerships between community colleges and workforce development systems led to quick start-up and fully implemented programs” (p.xi).
•“Programs were shaped by student needs and the different contexts within the cities” (p.xi).
•“…sites were able to reach modified recruitment goals, demonstrating a need for the programs in these cities” (p.xi).
•“Programs made…trade-offs between selectivity during recruitment, size of the program, and participation levels in the program” (p.xi).
•“…programs were different, but caring adults were the linchpin of both” (p.xii).
•“…sites aimed to connect opportunity youth to long-term employment by charting a clear course through their academic path and connecting them with employers in their field” (p.xiii).
•“Connections with employers took time and effort to build and were dependent on identifying skilled students that were a good fit for employers” (p.xiii).

In Baltimore, the site recruited 25 students and “[20] students completed the full course of classes….As of April 19, 2016, all 20 students had received their medical terminology and electrocardiogram certification, 15 had completed their GEDs, 15 had received their CNA certification, and 14 had received their venipuncture certification” (p.ix).

In Boston, the site recruited 125 students and “[s]tudent participation varied depending on their needs and motivation….Fifteen percent of the participants received less than one hour of services over the course of the program, 38 percent received between one and five hours of program services, and 46 percent received more than five hours. The most common activity (79 percent) was one-on-one meetings with a caring adult” (p.x). Overall, “…the program was limited by a lack of full integration” into the community college system (p.x).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

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Publication Date: 2016
Posted: 5/19/2017 4:07 PM
Posted In: Workforce System Strategies
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