Boston Summer Youth Employment Program

Program basics

  • Employment program that engages approximately 10,000 youths per summer in a six-to-seven week program
  • 20-25 hours per week of minimum wage work in the public, non-profit, or private sectors
  • Aims to provide participants with exposure and tools to improve employment success, with particular focus on reducing gaps between racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups
  • A segment of subsidized participants employed by nonprofits or the public sector receive additional work readiness training

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Promising (Third-highest tier)

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Promising (Third-highest tier)

Boston Summer Youth Employment Program is not yet in any of the major clearinghouses, but has demonstrated positive results in an independent, high-quality evaluation conducted by Northeastern University


Target population

High school-aged children

Program cost

$1,500-$2,400 per participant

Implementation locations

Dates active

1990-Present

Outcomes and impact

  • 35% lower incidence of violent crime for 17 months following
  • Better employment the following year, particularly for older African American men
  • Improved education outcomes (better school attendance, decline in unexcused days, decline in failed courses)
  • Improvements were most significant among nonwhite youth

Keys to successful implementation

  • Partner with employers across a range of fields to ensure youths of different ages and with varying levels of workforce readiness have appropriate opportunities, including both temporary roles (such as at summer camps) and ones with longer term career potential (such as private sector businesses).
  • Encourage supervisors at partner employers to serve as informal mentors.
  • Offer weekly, wide-ranging programming that includes both required courses and electives allowing participants to explore potential interest areas.
  • Personal development programming should cover identifying strengths and weaknesses, as well as skills and interests.
  • Professional development programming should cover hard skills, such as drafting resumes and completing online applications, and soft skills, like communication, collaboration, and initiative. Consider offering such programming during orientation so that youth can put these new skills into practice throughout the summer.
  • Allow partner employers to provide input on program applicants, including interviewing and selecting participants and re-hiring youth from a previous summer.

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