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Reinvesting in America’s youth: Lessons from the 2009 Recovery Act Summer Youth Employment Initiative (Bellotti et al. 2010)

  • Findings

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Bellotti, J., Rosenberg, L., Sattar, S., Esposito, A., & Ziegler, J. (2010). Reinvesting in America’s youth: Lessons from the 2009 Recovery Act Summer Youth Employment Initiative. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research.


  • The research examines the implementation of the Summer Youth Employment Initiative (SYEI). Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, SYEI aimed to reverse the steep decline in youth employment during the recession by providing employment opportunities for youth in the summer of 2009. Through the initiative, youth were placed in summer work experiences with local employers and their wages were paid with Recovery Act funds. The work experiences were fairly flexible, but had to be age appropriate and lead to youth meeting work readiness goals.
  • The authors analyzed state performance data through December 31, 2009, and data from in-depth site visits to 20 selected sites during July and August 2009.
  • The authors reported that it took a large effort to get the program up and running in such a short amount of time (about four months). Some sites reported having to make compromises along the way, given the quick time frame, but all reported satisfaction with their accomplishments. The initiative was implemented successfully in all the studied sites, with all sites able to recruit a sufficient number of participants and place them in employment. Youth participants and the employers interviewed were very positive about the initative.
  • Although the implementation of SYEI was considered a success, it was not without some initial challenges, including handling the large volume of applicants and determining their eligibility, reaching older youth ages 22 to 24 and veterans and their spouses, and appropriately matching youth to employers.

Intervention Examined

Summer Youth Employment Initiative (SYEI)

Reviewed by CLEAR

June 2014