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Improving Education and Employment for Disadvantaged Young Men: Proven and Promising Strategies

  • Carolyn J. Heinrich and Harry J. Holzer
  • June 2010
  • DP1374-10

This article will appear in Smeeding, Timothy, Irwin Garfinkel, and Ronald Mincy, eds. “Young Disadvantaged Men: Fathers, Families, Poverty, and Policy,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 635 (May 2011).

Low high school graduation rates and sharply declining employment rates among disadvantaged youth have led to increasing numbers of youth who are disconnected from both school and work. What programs and policies might prevent these disconnections and improve educational and employment outcomes, particularly among young men? We review the evidence base on youth development policies for adolescents and young teens; programs seeking to improve educational attainment and employment for in-school youth; and programs that try to ‘reconnect’ those who are out of school and frequently out of work, including public employment programs. We identify a number of programmatic strategies that are promising or even proven, based on rigorous evaluations, for disadvantaged youth with different circumstances, and conclude that policy efforts need to promote a range of approaches to engage and reconnect youth, along with ongoing evaluation efforts to improve our understanding of what works, including which program components, for whom.


Children, Education & Training, Employment, Job Training, K-12 Education, Transition to Adulthood, Unemployment/Nonemployment