Rockville, Md. – Abt Associates today announced that the national Year Up program generated some of the largest sustained earnings gains ever reported for a job training program for low-income young adults. Abt’s evaluation found that gains lasted through the end of a five-year follow-up period. By the fifth year, participants’ average annual earnings were nearly $8,000 (34 percent) higher than the earnings of a randomly assigned control group.
The evaluation also found that:
- the program returned $1.66 in net benefits to society for every dollar spent in the first five years
- the program boosted average hourly wages by 22 percent, from $15.20 to $18.55
- earnings gains were large in all nine cities where the program operated and in all demographic subgroups examined, suggesting the possibility of replication elsewhere
- the program increased the share of participants working full-time in information technology from 5 percent in the control group to 31 percent in the training group and the share working in financial services full-time from 14 percent in the control group to 21 percent in the training group
Arnold Ventures, an influential authority on evidence-based policy, hailed the findings as “[E]xtremely impressive… definitive evidence of Year Up’s effectiveness when delivered on a large scale.” It strongly recommended expanding the program, noting that such an expansion could potentially move the needle on economic mobility and racial equity.
“With millions of young adults facing unprecedented difficulties starting careers due to COVID-19, the need for programs like Year Up is especially pressing,” said David Fein, Abt’s principal investigator on the study.
Year Up serves young adults with high school credentials who are disconnected from the mainstream economy. The full-time, year-long program offers six months of technical and professional skills training followed by a six-month internship at a leading company such as Bank of America, Facebook, JPMorgan Chase, and Salesforce. Employers’ investments in the internship program contribute 59 percent of program costs.
“Our partnership with Year Up has brought dynamic, talented, and diverse young leaders through our doors,” said Cathy Bessant, chief operations and technology officer at Bank of America. “Since 2006, we have hosted more than 1,850 Year Up interns. They bring invaluable skills to our business, clients, and communities, enabling us to improve economic mobility and equality by connecting more individuals to sustainable career pathways.”
The study used a randomized controlled trial design—the gold standard for program evaluation—to assign 2,544 18-24 year olds to treatment and control groups and then compared outcomes. The vast majority of study participants, 85 percent, identified as persons of color. The program accepted one out of six applicants. The Year Up program that Abt evaluated operates in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, National Capital Region, New York City, Providence, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle.
Year Up is one of nine programs Abt is evaluating in the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) project sponsored by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. The Year Up evaluation covered the period preceding onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Future reports will extend analysis over a longer follow-up period.
About Abt Associates
Abt Associates is a global consulting and research firm that uses data and bold thinking to improve the quality of people’s lives. From combatting infectious disease and conducting rigorous program evaluations, to ensuring safe drinking water and promoting access to affordable housing—and more—we partner with clients and communities to tackle their most complex challenges. https://www.abtassociates.com