Using Data & Technology to Link Boston Youth to Jobs

Report by Olivia Arena and Kathryn L.S. Pettit
June 11, 2018

Urban Institute   (NNIP Coordinator)
Metropolitan Area Planning Council   (Boston)

In Boston, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the city’s Division of Youth Engagement and Employment came together to redesign key program elements for the city’s youth employment program, including the application interface, how youth are assigned to jobs, and how the agency communicates with applicants. They were assisted by the Department of Innovation and Technology, Code for Boston, and MIT education experts. The collaborative developed a creative algorithm for matching youth to desired jobs and a system to notify applicants of matches via email and text message. The new Youth Jobs Platform allowed staff real-time access to program operations data and enabled youth to monitor their status throughout the application process. The project demonstrated that tailoring services to meet the needs of youth results in higher participation and frees up staff for program enhancements.

From 2014 to 2018, the Civic Tech and Data Collaborative brought together local government officials, civic technologists, and community data organizations across seven communities to explore how to harness data and technology to benefit low-income residents. Three national organizations with local networks - Living Cities, Code for America, and the Urban Institute’s National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership – guided the initiative. As part of the initiative, local collaboratives in Boston, St. Louis, and Washington, DC created products that use data and technology in new ways to improve services or programs in their cities. To access the three case studies, cross-site lessons, ecosystem mapping guide, and other project resources, visit