MDRC Partners with Instituto del Desarrollo de la Juventud to Address Unemployment Among Youth in Post-Maria Puerto Rico


With support from the W.T. Grant Foundation, MDRC is partnering with Instituto del Desarrollo de la Juventud (Youth Development Institute, or YDI) to help address the long-standing youth employment problem in Puerto Rico, which has only worsened in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017.

YDI and MDRC will leverage the current focus on infrastructure repairs and reconstruction in Puerto Rico to create pathways for youth, including parenting youth, into the workforce. The two organizations and their academic partner, Hector Cordero-Guzman of Baruch College, will develop evidence-based recommendations about how to facilitate and support training and employment opportunities for youth and map funding streams at the federal, commonwealth, and local government level that could be tapped to support training and employment opportunities for youth.

The team will also identify potential partners, including nonprofit organizations and employers, that could implement the promising practices and offer technical assistance mechanisms to support the commonwealth government with implementation of the plan.

“After the hurricane, we were concerned about the effects that the hurricane would have on families’ economic security, which was already dire for most families with children — 56 percent of children in Puerto Rico live in poverty,” said Amanda Rivera, executive director of Instituto del Desarrollo de la Juventud. “We also saw an opportunity for young parents and youth to take advantage of some of the new jobs that could be generated in the recovery, such as construction, which we knew increased in New Orleans after Katrina.”

“As someone with deep ties to Puerto Rico and who has spent 21 years at MDRC believing in our mission to build and use evidence to inform policy and practice, I feel privileged to be partnering with the Youth Development Institute and Dr. Hector Cordero-Guzman on this important work,” said John Martinez, director of program development for MDRC. “This is an incredible opportunity for MDRC to use the evidence that we and others have built around issues and policy solutions related to youth employment to help support the Youth Development Institute’s efforts in Puerto Rico.”

On September 25, YDI is sponsoring a related Capitol Hill Forum, “One Year After Maria: How Children and Youth Are Faring After the Hurricane.” Registration for the event is free.