One Summer Chicago Plus: Scaling and Unpacking a Successful Youth Summer Jobs Program

Marianne Bertrand (University of Chicago), in collaboration with the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services, is conducting a large-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the summer jobs program One Summer Chicago Plus (OSC+). OSC+ offers part-time summer employment supported by an adult mentor to disadvantaged youth. The first RCT of the program, conducted by Sara Heller (University of Pennsylvania, Co-PI) in 2012, finds this program reduces violent-crime arrests by 43% over 16 months. A second RCT the following summer (Heller & Davis) replicates the violence reduction and identifies potentially important heterogeneous effects. We propose a third RCT that aims to answer why the program reduces violence. The proposed project will 1) experimentally vary one key candidate mechanism – the mentor – to separate the effect of the job from what the mentor teaches, and 2) collect detailed information on bringing the program – which is doubling in size to 2,000 youth – to scale. We will randomize youth to receive the full OSC+ program (job+mentor), the same program with no mentor, or no OSC+ services (control). Within geographic blocks, we will also randomize the allocation of treatment youth across the 19 different non-for-profit partners that will be in charge of program implementation. We will measure outcomes using administrative arrest, schooling, and employment records; and we will survey youth, employers, and program staff.

RFP Cycle:
SPRI Off Cycle RFP [2014-15]
United States of America
  • Full project