Boston Summer Youth Employment Program

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 this outcome 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 overview

  • 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
Target Population
High school-aged children
Cost per Participant
$1,500-$2,400 per participant

Evidence and impacts


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

  • 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

Best practices in 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.