A summer youth employment program that is designed to improve school attendance, academic achievement, and employment of low-income youth between the ages of 14 and 24. The program is rated No Effects. There were no statistically significant differences in school attendance or academic achievement between program participants and the control group. However, there were statistically significant differences in employment and earnings for program participants, compared with the control group.
This program’s rating is based on evidence that includes at least one high-quality randomized controlled trial.
Program Goals/Target Population
Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) is a program administered by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD). The program is designed to improve school attendance, academic achievement, and employment of low-income youth between the ages of 14 and 24. The goal of the SYEP is to facilitate the long-term employment and self-sufficiency of youth by helping them to 1) acquire professional skills, habits, and networks; 2) develop a greater understanding of the higher education and career options available to them; and 3) build life skills and financial capabilities for their transition to adulthood.
Youth interested in the SYEP program are required to submit an online or paper application and select a service provider they are interested in working with. Each complete application is randomly assigned an identification number. After the application deadline, DYCD runs a computerized lottery system and then randomly select applicants according to the number of slots assigned to each service provider.
Youth who are selected for the SYEP are offered two main services: 1) minimum-wage, entry-level jobs with public or private employers across the city; and 2) educational services. Entry-level summer jobs consist of employment that reflects young people’s experiences and career interests. Youth work in a variety of entry-level jobs at community-based organizations, government agencies, and private sector businesses. The most common worksites include summer camps and day care centers. Program participants are eligible to work up to 25 hours a week for up to 6 or 7 consecutive weeks. Youth in these positions are supervised by employers and monitored by community providers.
Approximately 10 percent of the total program hours are dedicated to educational services, which include an orientation during the first week of participation and workshops on DYCD curriculum topics on work readiness, career exploration, financial literacy, personal health, and postsecondary education. Participants are paid for all hours spent on educational activities, including orientation.
In addition to DYCD, SYEP also requires the cooperation of community-based providers that implement services to youth in the program and employers that provide worksites for participants. Community providers include multiservice social agencies, community colleges, economic development agencies, and other types of organizations that focus on workforce and youth development. Providers serve as intermediaries between youth and their employers. They are responsible for recruiting both employers and youth, placing youth in jobs, providing them with educational services, and monitoring their progress. Employer staff members at each worksite are responsible for daily supervision of SYEP participants at their jobs and providing direction, training, counseling, and feedback to youth on their work at least twice during the course of the program.
Valentine and colleagues (2017) found a statistically significant difference in total employment, with 72.3 percent of Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) participants being employed during the application summer (June to September) after they had applied to the program (in May), compared with 18.5 percent of the control group who were employed in non-SYEP programs.
There was a statistically significant difference in total earnings, with SYEP participants earning an average of $580 more than the control group.
There was no statistically significant difference in school attendance between SYEP participants and youth in the control group.
On-Time High School Graduation
There was no statistically significant difference in on-time high school graduation between SYEP participants and the control group.
College Degree Completion
There was no statistically significant difference in the completion of a college degree between SYEP participants and the control group.
Valentine and colleagues (2017) used a randomized lottery system to examine the impact of summer employment on school attendance, academic achievement, and employment among youth who applied for the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) administered by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD). Using results from the city’s randomized lottery system, the study authors compared the outcomes of youth who had won a placement in the SYEP through the lottery (treatment group) with those who had applied to the program but had not won a place (control group).
An initial set of lottery winners were randomly selected in May of each year, and youth who won places in the program were notified and given 5 days to respond to the offer. Then, during a secondary lottery, youth were randomly selected to fill the remaining spots of those who had not responded or had declined the initial offer. This process was repeated until all places were filled, or the program period began.
The total sample for this study included 264,075 youths between the ages of 14 and 24 who applied to SYEP for the first time between 2006 and 2010. There were 116,919 youths in the treatment group and 147,156 in the control group. Approximately 52.4 percent of the treatment group was between the ages of 14 and 15, 28.6 percent were between 16 and 17, and 18.9 percent between 18 and 24. The treatment group was 46 percent male. In regard to race/ethnicity, roughly 43.5 percent were black, 30.5 percent Hispanic, 12.2 percent white, 8.4 percent Asian, and 5.5 percent other. Of the treatment group, 86.3 percent had an educational status of high school or below, 11.8 percent had been employed the year before SYEP and earned roughly $494, and 79.4 percent were eligible for free or reduced lunch.
Similarly, 54.2 percent of the control group was between the ages of 14 and 15, 28.4 percent between 16 and 17, and 19.4 percent between 18 and 24. The control group was 45.8 percent male. In regard to race/ethnicity, 43.2 percent were black, 30.6 Hispanic, 12.1 percent white, 8.5 percent Asian, and 5.6. percent other. Of the total control group, 85.9 percent had an educational status of high school or below, 11.8 percent had been employed the year before SYEP and earned roughly $500, and 79.6 percent were eligible for free or reduced lunch. There were a few statistically significant demographic differences between the treatment and control groups, including the number of 18–24-year-olds and those in other age categories (14–15 and 16–17), the borough of residence, and whether they had been employed the year before SYEP. There were no other statistically significant differences between the treatment and control groups.
Intent-to-treat and regression analyses were conducted for several outcome measures, including total employment, total earnings, school attendance, high school graduation rates, and college degree completion. The NYC Department of Education provided data on youth’s high school attendance and graduation in NYC and enrollment in and graduation from 2- and 4-year colleges in the United States. This data was only available for youth in the sample who received funding from NYC schools. Quarterly records from the New York State Department of Labor were used to measure employment and earnings in jobs that were not part of SYEP. Such records did not include information on jobs located outside of the state or informal jobs (e.g., babysitting). Lastly, DYCD provided data on applicants’ characteristics, lottery results, and participation in SYEP. Follow-up analyses were conducted every year for up to 5 years after program participation. Five-year follow-up findings were not included in this review because over the course of the 5 years, youth in both the intervention and the control groups were able to apply for SYEP in any year in which they were eligible. Therefore, over the course of 5 years, youths in both groups may have participated in SYEP for multiple years, and the findings at the 5-year follow up would not represent the impact of SYEP on all lottery winners in a given year. The study authors conducted subgroup analyses.
There is no cost information available for this program.
Valentine and colleagues (2017) conducted subgroup analyses to examine the program’s impact on youth of different ages who applied to the program and on those who applied in different years.
There were statistically significant differences in Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) participation among subgroups of different ages and subgroups who applied in different years. Participation was largest among young teens (ages 14 to 15) at 73 percent, compared with 63 percent of teens (16 to 17) and 55 percent of young adults (18 to 24). Program participation was also higher for the prerecession subgroup (2006–2008) at 70 percent, compared with 62 percent of the recession-era subgroup (2009–2010).
SYEP had a large impact on total employment and earnings during the application summer, which was the result of higher SYEP employment (67.4 percent) and earnings ($711) among SYEP participants in the 2006 cohort (38,235 youths), compared with the control group. However, at 1- and 5-year follow ups, there were no additional statistically significant differences between the groups; therefore, the authors concluded that there were no meaningful, long-term impacts on total employment or earnings among this cohort.
There were no subgroup differences in impacts on school attendance, high school graduation rates, college enrollment, or college degree completion across youth of different ages or cohorts.
Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:Study 1
Valentine, Erin J., Chloe Anderson, Farhana Hossain, and Rebecca Unterman. 2017. An Introduction to the World of Work: A Study of the Implementation and Impacts of New York City's Summer Youth Employment Program
. New York, N.Y.: MDRC.https://www.dol.gov/asp/evaluation/completed-studies/SYEP-Full-Report.pdf
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:
Bellotti, Jeanne., Linda Rosenberg, Samina Sattar, Andrea M. Esposito, and Jessica. Ziegler. 2010. Reinvesting in America's Youth: Lessons from the 2009 Recovery Act Summer Youth Employment Initiative
. Cambridge, MA: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
Leos-Urbel, Jacob. 2014. “What is a Summer Job Worth? The Impact of Summer Youth Employment on Academic Outcomes.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management
33(4):891–911. (This study was reviewed but did not meet CrimeSolutions.gov criteria for inclusion in the overall program rating.)
Schwartz, Amy E., Jacob Leos-Urbel, and Matt Wiswall. 2015. Making Summer Matter: The Impact of Youth Employment on Academic Performance (No. w21470)
. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. (This study was reviewed but did not meet CrimeSolutions.gov criteria for inclusion in the overall program rating.)