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Scaling Up to Close the Opportunity Divide for Low-Income Youth: A Case Study of the Year Up Program

David Fein


July 25, 2016

This report examines initial efforts to scale up the Year Up program. From its inception in 2000, Year Up expanded its original “core” model—a stand-alone program—from one office in Boston to sites in nine cities serving 2,000 youth annually by 2015. In 2012, Year Up began piloting an adaptation for community college settings designed to improve scalability: the Professional Training Corps (PTC). Program data show that Year Up maintained a high level of performance in its core program while expanding services from 2010-15. During this period, the program’s completion rate increased from 70 to nearly 80 percent, while the number of participants roughly doubled. Similarly, Year Up increased recruitment by 50 percent to generate the PACE control group sample, while maintaining applicant quality. Drawing mainly on interviews with Year Up leaders, this paper distills lessons from three aspects of experiences with growth: expanding recruitment, scaling signature program services, and addressing cross-cutting challenges in scaling. The paper can also be found here on ACF’s website.