Chicago One Summer

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can provide assistance to unemployed workers and help prevent violence. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve these outcomes are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program basics

  • A collaboration between government agencies, community-based organizations, and employers to offer subsidized summer employment and internship opportunities to youth and young adults between 14-24
  • One Summer Chicago operates as an umbrella organization to unify summer skill building programs across Chicago across
  • Program offers badges as a form of professional credential to recognize participants' work readiness in categories including goal planning, financial responsibility, and 21st century skills

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Promising (Third-highest tier)

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Promising (Third-highest tier)

Chicago One Summer is not yet in any of the major clearinghouses, but has demonstrated positive results in an independent, high-quality evaluation conducted by UChicago Urban Labs


Target population

High school-aged children

Program cost

Approximately $3,000 per participant

Implementation locations

Dates active

2011-present

Outcomes and impact

  • 43 percent fewer arrests among at-risk youths 16 months after participation

Keys to successful implementation

  • While high schools may serve as the primary recruitment networks, also engage with community-based non-profit agencies, including employment groups and churches, to recruit and serve youth participants.
  • Offer a broad range of opportunities to appeal to as many potential participants as possible, including working as summer camp counselors, in aldermen’s offices, planting community gardens, and more.
  • Embed a program coordinator or instructor within the program – an adult who can provide guidance on how to be a successful employee and discuss barriers and challenges. Importantly, these team members can be college students home for the summer, staff at program providers, or external applicants interested in becoming mentors.
  • To partners and potential funders, frame the program as preventative rather than remedial; the program is meant to serve as an introduction to the labor force, rather than an intensive intervention.
  • Encourage employers to regularly discuss conflict resolution and to proactively address any perceived slights, as anecdotal evidence suggests participants’ reactions of defensiveness to challenges is a leading obstacle to program completion.

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