Urban Alliance

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 help address educational disparities. 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

  • Strives to change the trajectories of at-risk youth, providing a year of programming that includes work readiness training, a paid internship, and mentoring
  • Generally targets "middle-of-the road" high school seniors with a GPA between 2.0 and 3.0
  • Offers ongoing support after school graduation, including coaching, alumni events, and additional internship opportunities

Evidence and impacts


Urban Alliance is not in any of the major clearinghouses, but demonstrated positive results in a randomized controlled trial completed by the Urban Institute in 2017

  • Increased probability of graduating from high school and attending college by 12 percentage points for males
  • Increased probability of attending 4-year college by 9 percentage points two years after high school graduation for students with middle-range GPAs

Best practices in implementation

  • The scale of the program is most limited by the number of internships local employers are willing to support. Having a few large employers serve as vocal champions of the program can encourage other businesses across the region to bring on interns of their own.
  • Public and civic sector champions are critical conveners for the sorts of partnerships Urban Alliance relies on. Mayors, County Executives, and legislators can help bring school leadership, local non-profits, and local employers to the table and enable greater success for the program.
  • Support from school leadership is critical for recruiting students, managing the logistics of getting students to their internships, and bringing work readiness programming to non-seniors.
  • Meticulous data collection and a commitment to independent evaluation have helped the program attract significant funding from the public sector and philanthropy.