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An Experimental Evaluation of Philadelphia WorkReady
Initial registration date
September 21, 2017
November 06, 2019 3:59 PM EST
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University of Michigan
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
The City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Office and the Philadelphia Youth Network are partnering to conduct a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the impact of WorkReady, a summer jobs program for disadvantaged youth. Recent evidence from random-assignment studies shows that summer jobs programs in New York City and Chicago dramatically reduce violence involvement among participants, but have small, if any, effects on education and employment. The Philadelphia study is intended to 1) assess how generalizable the prior findings are by testing the crime, employment, and school effects of a different summer jobs program in a new setting (pending data availability), and 2) to better understand mechanisms by expanding tests for program effects to other socially-costly correlates of violence that may also be affected. To study these questions, we will allocate about 1,000 of the 8,000 summer WorkReady slots by lottery. We will track youth in a range of administrative data, as well as collect some supplementary qualitative evidence about youth experiences.
The Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) has offered a youth summer jobs programs called WorkReady for over 15 years. Using a blend of government and private funding, PYN contracts with 50-60 local agencies that implement the six-week WorkReady summer program. Youth ages 14 to 21 apply with a common application either to PYN or to a local agency directly. Program youth are assigned to a local provider, which places them in one of three program models (service learning, work experience, or internship). All three models focus on developing “21st-Century Workforce Skills” and offer an hourly wage.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Final outcomes will depend on data availability. Outcomes for which we are pursuing data include: criminal behavior, education engagement and performance, labor market involvement, health, fertility, and household functioning. We are also conducting qualitative interviews and observations with a small number of study subjects to help document program implementation and context, understand the counterfactual condition, and generate hypotheses about mechanisms.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Demand regularly outpaces available resources; last year over 16,000 youth applied for a summer job through PYN, while less than half were awarded a working opportunity. Historically, slots have been allocated either by first-come, first-served policies or by the choice of the provider. For the 2017 program, PYN has committed to a more equitable distribution of a subset of program slots through the implementation of a fair lottery. Youth applicants will be blocked by age and geographic location, then individually randomly assigned to be offered the program or not.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization will be conducted by the researchers on a computer in an office.
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
We anticipate randomizing around 3,000 applicants for 1,000 program slots.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Youth will be assigned to different program types, but not randomly. So there is a single treatment arm.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
With 100% take-up, the MDE would be about 0.1. Based on the pilot study, however, we expect the effective take-up rate to be between 30 and 50 percent. If the resulting power is too low, we may repeat the study in summer 2018.
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
University of Pennsylvania Office of Regulatory Affairs, Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number