Center for Youth and Communities

The Heller School for Social Policy and ManagementReturn to this website's homepageBrandeis University

Youth, Work & Learning

  • The Center is also regularly engaged in a variety of other youth, education, and career initiatives.  As one example, since 2002 Brandeis has been working as the evaluation partner with FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a national robotics program begun by the well-known inventor Dean Kamen.  Brandeis’ work with FIRST has included a retrospective study of the participants in the FIRST Robotics Program, a national high school robotics competition currently operating in approximately 1,000 schools.  For that project, Brandeis surveyed approximately 250 FIRST participants from the past five years to learn about their post-high school college and employment experiences.  Brandeis has also conducted evaluations of the FIRST LEGO League program (FIRST’s middle school program), and the FIRST Vex Challenge, a mid-level version of the FIRST Robotics Competition designed to be more affordable and accessible for schools and communities.
  • The Center is also completing a five-year longitudinal study of the GE Fund’s national College Bound initiative and developing an initiative-wide reporting system for use by the sites and the Fund.  College Bound is a $30 million national college access program that was established by the GE Fund to increase college-going among students in schools in low-income communities through activities ranging from college counseling to enriched academic support services to school-wide curriculum reform.  The project includes two major elements: the implementation and operation of a College Bound “Activity and Outcome Reporting System” that is designed to provide regular and consistent data on program outcomes and activities for all active College Bound sites; and a five-year longitudinal study of entering high school freshmen and graduating seniors in three College Bound communities to provide a more definitive assessment of the program’s impacts.
  • Brandeis’ interest in college access programs was also reflected in its involvement in a year-long retrospective study with the Rhode Island Children's Crusade (RICC), a statewide initiative founded in 1989 to encourage students to graduate from high school with a plan for additional education.  The Crusade provides program activities and higher education scholarships for young people who enroll in third grade and stay in school through graduation.  The Brandeis evaluation included an assessment of the context and implementation of the program; analysis of program and school participant data to assess services and service outcomes; and implementation and analysis of a survey of current crusaders in the 7th, 9th, and 12th grades.
  • The Center also completed a three-year evaluation of the Skillman Foundation’s ten-year Youth Sports & Recreation Initiative and three-year-old Culture & Arts Youth Development Initiative. The products included an implementation study that has been used by the Foundation to hone its youth development investments, as well as an outcomes report that found that meaningful youth participation and program quality had a positive impact on youth outcomes. 
  • The Center is conducting a two-year participant outcome study of the NFTE (National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship) program in approximately 35 low-income and urban schools around the country.  The study includes a combination of pre- and post-program assessments, a six-month follow-up study, and analysis of school record data to assess the impact of the program on participant knowledge, school performance, and school and career-related attitudes and aspirations.
  • Center staff are also working with Capital One and Consumer Action, a national nonprofit organization, to develop a set of evaluation options for assessing the impact of the MoneyWi$e program, a financial literacy program sponsored by Capital One and developed by Consumer Action.  The goal of this effort is to identify a set of feasible strategies for evaluating the impact of MoneyWi$e on participants, as well as assessing the delivery of the program through a national network of nonprofit program partners.
  • The Center has also worked with the national Junior Achievement program to develop evaluation tools for JA’s career and financial education programs in the United States and internationally.  Working as an evaluation advisory, Brandeis helped Junior Achievement staff revise its evaluation strategy for the Junior Achievement programs in the United States and select a group of research organizations to serve as evaluation partners.  Brandeis then developed and piloted a set of evaluation “toolkits” for use in the international Junior Achievement programs.
  • In addition to its recent work on financial literacy, the Center for Youth and Communities has a more than twenty-year history of work on youth employment and school-to-career initiatives.  Brandeis recently completed work with My Turn, a regional provider of youth employment and education programs for at-risk youth, to examine the replicability of its programs and to develop a strategy for a long-term evaluation.  Other career-development-related projects include an implementation evaluation of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Out of School Youth School-to-Work Demonstration Projects and Job Corps School-to-Work Model Centers for the U.S. Department of Labor and an implementation and impact study of the Department of Labor’s summer academic enrichment program.  Both studies were conducted with SPR Associates, a nationally recognized research firm based in California.  Earlier projects also include evaluations of the Rural Education in Action Learning (REAL) program for the program operator, REAL Enterprises, Inc.; the New Ways to Work Program (a California-based school-to-career initiative); and Jobs for Ohio’s Graduates (a state-level affiliate of the national Jobs for America’s Graduates program).

Copyright 2018 • Brandeis University • All rights are reserved