The Impact of Summer Youth Employment (SYEP) in Cleveland on Criminal Justice and Educational Outcomes

Report by Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development, Youth Opportunities Unlimited
February 2020

Center on Poverty and Community Development   (Cleveland)

Youth jobs have the potential to disrupt cycles of youth violence and lead to better outcomes with regard to school engagement, other employment, and positive youth development. The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), administered by Y.O.U. (Youth Opportunities Unlimited), serves youth living in economically distressed circumstances in the Cleveland area, providing work experiences intended to serve as building blocks for future employment opportunities and financial literacy. This analysis evaluates the impact of the SYEP by comparing youth that participate in SYEP with similar youth that were not selected for participation on a range of criminal justice and educational outcomes. Individuals applying for summer jobs through Y.O.U’s SYEP from 2014 -2017 were matched to administrative data to examine juvenile justice, incarceration and educational outcomes, using propensity score matching techniques. SYEP participants were less likely to have both delinquency filings and to be incarcerated in the adult jail system 2 years after placement than were individuals in the matched comparison group. SYEP participants had better school attendance rates in the academic year following summer application and were more likely to graduate from high school than comparison youth. These results suggest that SYEP is a promising, preventative intervention for Cleveland’s youth.