Reengaging New York City’s Disconnected Youth Through Work

Implementation and Early Impacts of the Young Adult Internship Program

By Melanie Skemer, Arielle Sherman, Sonya Williams, Danielle Cummings

For many young people, the time between one’s late teenage years and early twenties encompasses several important milestones, including graduating from high school, attending college, entering the workforce, and beginning to establish economic independence. However, 12.3 percent of young people in the United States between the ages of 16 and 24 — 4.9 million young people in total — are neither in school nor working. These “disconnected” or “opportunity” youth face serious challenges to achieving success in the labor market and self-sufficiency in adulthood.

The Young Adult Internship Program (YAIP) is intended to help reengage young people who have fallen off track, thereby reducing their risk of long-term economic hardship. The New York City Center for Economic Opportunity and the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development oversee the program and community-based provider organizations throughout the city deliver it. YAIP offers young people a 10- to 12-week paid internship, along with various other services, including job-readiness workshops and activities; individual support, counseling, and assessments; case management; and follow-up services.

MDRC is conducting a random assignment evaluation of YAIP to determine whether the program makes a difference in the lives of the young people it serves. The study is part of the larger Subsidized and Transitional Employment Demonstration, sponsored by the Administration of Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. From July 2013 to March 2014, nearly 2,700 young people were assigned, at random, to either a program group, which was offered YAIP services, or to a control group, which was not offered those services. The study will measure outcomes for both groups over time to assess whether YAIP services led to better outcomes for the program group compared with the control group.

This is the first major report in the YAIP evaluation. It provides a detailed description of the YAIP model, assesses its implementation, and examines whether the program improved key outcomes during the first year after young people were enrolled in the study. Main findings include:

  • Overall, YAIP was well-implemented. The program was delivered very similarly across providers with a high degree of fidelity to the program model as designed. Participation rates were high: over three-fourths of young people assigned to the program group worked in a subsidized internship and 86 percent of those young people completed the internship.

  • Program group members were more likely than control group members to report receiving employment services, as well as advice or support and mentorship from staff members at an agency or organization. However, substantial numbers of control group members also reported receiving help in these areas.

  • Program group members were more likely than the control group members to work in the year following random assignment, but the quarterly employment rates of the two groups converged after the YAIP internships ended. The program group also had higher earnings than the control group; while largest during the time when program group members were working in paid internships, impacts on earnings persisted throughout the follow-up period, suggesting that program group members may have obtained better jobs compared with their control group counterparts.

A report planned for release in 2018 will present YAIP’s final impact results, with a longer-term follow-up of 30 months, as well as the results of a benefit-cost analysis.

Document Details

Publication Type
April 2017
Skemer, Melanie, Arielle Sherman, Sonya Williams, and Danielle Cummings. 2017. Reengaging New York City’s Disconnected Youth Through Work. New York: MDRC.