Research

Since its founding, YouthBuild USA, Inc. has worked to establish a culture of accountability within the network of YouthBuild programs. We have developed a robust data management system that provides on-going information guiding our quality assurance and grant-making practices.  

We have also partnered with external researchers in a variety of targeted studies to increase our knowledge. Studies on YouthBuild USA have been contracted and funded by government agencies, funded by YouthBuild USA with private funds, or conducted by individual researchers and entities with their own funds.  

Currently MDRC is implementing a random assignment study of YouthBuild at 75 randomly selected sites in the USA in partnership with the US Department of Labor and YouthBuild USA. The Inter-American Development Bank has funded YouthBuild program expansion in El Salvador, and the Bahamas, and has commissioned impact studies of the YouthBuild operations in these two countries and in Panama to take place in 2015 and 2016.

Most recent studies:

  • A 2013 assessment by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice focused on YouthBuild USA's YouthBuild AmeriCorps’ model of service engagement found that “Over the course of their participation…students develop a closer connection with their communities, a stronger commitment to service, an enhanced sense of personal worth and reliability, and greater trust in authority and social institutions.”
  • A 2013 study by the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University looked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Postsecondary Success Initiative at YouthBuild USA.  The study found that the initiative was successful in developing strong working partnerships between youth‐serving community‐based organizations and community college partners.  The initiative also led to the creation of a new college-going culture and strategies for preparing youth for and supporting them in postsecondary education. The report recommends that “these types of partnerships should be supported and encouraged.”
  • A 2012 report by Tufts University found that young people who faced enormous challenges at entry to YouthBuild and barely expected to live to age 25 changed their trajectory, internalized the skills and values to become committed civic leaders, with many becoming non-profit professionals, pastors, and even elected officials.
  • A 2010 analysis of GED attainment at YouthBuild AmeriCorps programs by Social Policy Research Associates found that the students were “overwhelmingly positive” about their experiences in YouthBuild, expressing that both the teachers and other staff “cared about them as individuals” and “did whatever necessary to help them reach their educational goals.”
  • USAID's Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation named YouthBuild an "innovative program" which has "shown promise in reaching out to young people who often are left behind in more traditional development efforts."
  • A study commissioned by the Inter-American Development Bank found that the “Central American Youthbuilders Program” : “Can  be considered a space for real and effective opportunities for youth with connections to gangs and at risk youth. The completion of the training and job placement processes for the youth in the three cohorts is a great achievement, given the group of youth at which the project was directed.”
  • YouthBuild was featured as one of 12 case studies in the book: Beyond Suppression: Global Perspectives on Youth Violence, Joan Serra Hoffman, Lyndee Knox and Robert Cohen (Editors),  November 2010

Read synopses of major YouthBuild research here, and find a list of all studies done between 1996 and 2014.