The United States is in the midst of a youth unemployment crisis, which carries serious consequences for young people and their families. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing unemployment challenges—especially for Black and Latino communities, who already experienced structural barriers to attaining jobs—and has further underscored the importance of building strong pathways to employment.

Urban Alliance is one program that strives to build a diverse next-generation workforce by providing employment experiences to young people from underresourced communities, predominantly young people of color. It offers high school seniors workplace skills training, exposure to professional work and mentorship, support from dedicated case managers, and continued access to resources and support for program alumni through its internship program.

In a previous Urban Institute evaluation of Urban Alliance, we found the program improved young people’s comfort with soft and hard skills two years after enrolling in the program. Although the evaluation did not show effects on employment one or two years after high school graduation, future analysis will explore longer-term effects.

In a rare opportunity for the field, the Urban Institute was commissioned to conduct a replication evaluation of the program to provide further evidence of the extent of its effectiveness. Our recently released baseline report for this evaluation includes firsthand reflections from young people on Urban Alliance programming that offer several insights into what may drive program outcomes.

  1. Young people believed supportive adults helped set them up for future success
  2. Young people appreciated training and developing workplace skills
  3. Young people recognized the value of early professional work experience

Read the full article about youth employment by Katherine Thomas, Jein Park, Matthew Gerken and Amelia Coffey at Urban Institute.