Understanding the Potential of Summer Jobs Programs: A Pilot Replication and Expansion Experiment in Philadelphia
Sara Heller (University of Pennsylvania), in collaboration with the Philadelphia Youth Network, the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office, and the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, is conducting a pilot study 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, and child maltreatment. In the summer 2015 pilot study, 201 applicants were randomly assigned to be offered the program or to a control group. This pilot is designed to collect the information on take-up rates, control crossover, the variance of outcomes, and the explanatory power of baseline covariates that will be needed to plan a larger-scale randomized controlled trial in 2016.