An Experimental Evaluation of Philadelphia WorkReady
Sara Heller (University of Pennsylvania), the City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Office, and the Philadelphia Youth Network are conducting a randomized evaluation to evaluate the impact of WorkReady, a summer jobs program for disadvantaged youth. Recent evidence from random-assignment studies shows that summer jobs programs in New York City and Chicago dramatically reduce violence involvement among participants, but have small, if any, effects on education and employment. The Philadelphia study is intended to 1) assess how generalizable the prior findings are by testing the crime, employment, and school effects of a different summer jobs program in a new setting, and 2) expand tests for program effects to socially-costly correlates of violence that may also be affected: mental health, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, housing instability, and child maltreatment. To study these questions, researchers will allocate about 1,000 of the 8,000 summer WorkReady slots by lottery. Researchers will track youth in a range of administrative data, as well as collect some supplementary qualitative evidence about youth experiences. This project received full evaluation funding in Spring 2017.