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Benefits That Last: Long-term Impact and Cost-benefit Findings for Year Up

David Fein and Samuel Dastrup


May 17, 2022

This report provides evidence that Year Up’s program of training and internships can help 18-24 year olds embark on well-paid jobs in information technology and financial services and lay the ground work for good careers. The evaluation found that after seven years, quarterly earnings for participants were 28 percent higher ($1,895) than for a control group. Household and personal income rose, families were more able to handle a $400 emergency, and they relied less on public benefits and debt. The net return to society for each dollar of program costs rose to $2.46 over the seven-year period—an increase from $1.66 reported for five years. The net gain to society was $34,328 per participant.

Year Up provides six months of full-time training in information technology and financial services, followed by six-month internships at major companies. Program participants have high school diplomas and are motivated to succeed but face hurdles arising from poverty and related disadvantages.

Abt Global used a randomized controlled trial to evaluate Year Up programs in nine cities as part of the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education project. Impacts were large for nearly all subgroups and offices, although their magnitudes varied considerably. The findings show that the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic effects were somewhat less detrimental for treatment than control group members during the first year and a half following onset.

The size and geographic breadth of impacts suggest that Year Up is likely to be effective if expanded for the kinds of young adults it currently serves—assuming scaling maintains Year Up’s high performance standards. The report identifies opportunities for increasing impacts for the current target population, expanding services to wider populations, and learning from future evaluations.