Boosting the Life Chances of Young Men of Color: Evidence From Promising Programs

by Christopher Wimer; Dan Bloom

Jun 25, 2014

In light of the momentum building to improve the fortunes of young men of color, this review examines what is known about this population – particularly related to their struggles in the labor market – and highlights programs that are shown by randomized controlled trials to be making a difference.
  • The number of jobs that once provided middle-class wages to workers without any postsecondary education (or without a high school diploma) has sharply declined, and the consequences are particularly severe for young men of color.
  • Effective assistance to young men of color can be divided into two broad categories: 1) proactive approaches, or preventive interventions aimed at youth who are still connected to positive systems; and 2) reconnection approaches, or interventions targeting those who have disconnected from those systems (e.g., who have dropped out of school or the labor market).
  • Proactive approaches to help young men of color connect to and progress through postsecondary education and training address common barriers that low-income and first-generation college students often face, such as financial pressure, poor academic preparation, or inadequate advising and counseling.
  • Jobs-Plus, an employment program based in housing developments, is an intervention aimed at reconnecting young men of color to better jobs which has shown promising results.
  • To make a lasting difference, successful interventions must be taken to scale – that is, replicated and expanded successfully in new settings – a process that can often be difficult and time-intensive.