Engaging Disconnected Young People in Education and Work



tunities to act as leaders and contribute to the community; and promote a smooth transition to

post-program employment, continued education, or both. 7

Building on prior program experiences, the main elements of the Project Rise model,

described in more detail later, were enrolling young adults into the program in a series of small

groups (called cohorts) of their peers at regular intervals, assigning participants to a case manager

who maintained a supportive relationship with them throughout their program stay, using

financial incentives to encourage program engagement (for example, rewarding participants

with a New York City transit system MetroCard 8 for meeting attendance requirements or a gift

card for completing a certain number of internship hours), and placing participants into paid

internships if they maintained satisfactory attendance in the program’s classroom education

component. Although the framework for these program elements was defined for the organizations

in the three cities, the providers were given some flexibility to adapt the model to local

conditions and to their Project Rise operating experiences. That said, all Project Rise providers

offered education, work, and social support as a pathway to a more successful future.

In cohorts of about 30, participants were expected to engage in a sequence of activities

over a 12-month period, including case management, high school equivalency instruction, 9

work-readiness training, and a paid 18-week, 180-hour maximum internship that was conditional

on maintaining adequate attendance in the educational component. After the internship, participants

were expected to transition to unsubsidized employment, postsecondary education, or

both; this transition was supposed to occur about six months after program enrollment for some

participants, though others were expected to require more time. The second six months of the

program were less structured, as participants transitioned to activities outside of Project Rise.

(Figure 1.1 depicts of the Project Rise model as designed.)

This report is based on work supported by the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a program

of the Corporation for National and Community Service. SIF combines public and private resources

to grow the impact of innovative, community-based solutions that have compelling evidence

of improving the lives of people in low-income communities throughout the United

States. Project Rise was part of the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO)

SIF project, which was led by CEO and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City in collaboration

with MDRC. MDRC conducted the Project Rise evaluation and, jointly with CEO,

7 Bloom, Levy Thompson, and Ivry (2010).

8 MetroCard is the payment method for using the New York City subway and bus system.

9 During the study period covered in this report, there were significant changes to high school equivalency

testing. In January 2014, as is described in more detail later in the report, new test options were introduced in

several states along with a revised General Educational Development (GED) test. In this report, the term

“GED” refers specifically to the GED test or preparation for the official GED test; the term “high school equivalency”

is an umbrella term used to refer collectively to all test, preparation, and instruction options.


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