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An Evaluation of the District of Columbia Summer Youth Employment Program Open Access

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The District of Columbia (DC) Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) is a six week program through the Department of Employment Services (DOES) designed to provide eligible youth with enriching summer work experiences through placements in community-based, private, or government sectors. The program is open to youth who ages 14 to 21 years, who are DC residents and permitted to work in the United States. SYEP meets the needs of these youth range using a youth development framework promoting positive work experiences. This evaluation utilized quantitative and qualitative methods including surveys, focus groups, interview, and SYEP records to evaluate if the youth were provided learning opportunities, if youth and supervisors were satisfied with the program, and the effect of SYEP on short term outcomes of increasing employability skills and future goals towards employment as well as increasing positive attitudes towards negative behaviors. In 2011, SYEP served 12,651 youth. There were about an equal number of males and females, with a majority in high school or below between the ages of 14 and 17 years. In addition, a majority of the participants (53%) came from Wards 7 and 8. It should also be noted that SYEP has a high retention rate, with 88% of the youth returning from the previous summer. In addition, a majority of the organization sites that youth were employed at were local non-profits and DC Government agencies.Overall the findings show that 95% of the youth felt that they were provided learning opportunities and 69% were satisfied with the program. Furthermore, 95% of supervisors were also satisfied with SYEP and have recognized the improvements that SYEP has made over the past years. With respect to youth outcomes, the program has shown to limited the short term outcomes of the program. The qualititative findings revealed continued improvements can still be implemented specifically around the application process and quality of programming. Recommendations are provided based on these findings including research, policy, and practice implications

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