Harris, L. (2006). Learning from the Youth Opportunity experience: Building delivery capacity in distressed communities. Washington, DC: Center for Law and Social Policy.
- This study explored the successes and challenges of implementing Youth Opportunity grants, which were awarded to 36 low-income communities in May 2000 to address high unemployment, low graduation rates, and endemic violence and crime among youth ages 14 to 21.
- The authors administered to 22 Youth Opportunity grantees a survey that gathered information on how the program engaged community leaders, connected different systems providing youth services, rolled out comprehensive programming, and collaborated with businesses. The researchers also conducted focus groups at several sites.
- The study found that Youth Opportunity grants had a high level of success in recruiting disadvantaged and out-of-school youth, boosting their enrollment in educational support programs, and placing participants in jobs and internships. The grants also improved the long-term capacity of these communities to serve low-income youth by enhancing youth workers’ skills and expertise and encouraging collaboration across different systems involved in youth development.
- Grantees faced challenges in setting up large-scale, complex initiatives in the allotted time, locating local funding, and ensuring that employers had reasonable expectations of program participants. The study recommended a lengthier planning phase and more closely engaging local and state officials and business representatives in the program.
Youth Opportunity Grant Initiative
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