Evaluating the Ecological Impact of a Youth Program


  • Natalie Grant Wichita State University
  • Jo Bennett Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University
  • Marcus Crawford University of Texas at Arlington




Youth are the weakest population within the workforce and long-term unemployment leaves them unable to develop work skills, reaches into their future prospects, and can weaken the economy, education systems, and overall social structure. Through ecological qualitative methodology, the reported research gathered in-depth accounts of experiences of ten urban youth who participated in a federally-funded Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). To develop an understanding of aspects of the youth’s lives, individual interviews were conducted and ecomaps were completed with participants. Personal narratives support the premises that documenting the ecosystems of individuals provides insights into daily lives, histories, and lived experiences in a way that provides a window into how services and prevention efforts can be targeted. Results concluded that for these participants, the SYEP made a difference in their lives in terms of helping them make connections to positive role models, learning workplace communication, and providing an entrance into the workforce on varying levels consistent with their barriers. This research can be applied to inform practitioners, teachers, and decision makers with a better understanding of the social, emotional, educational, and workforce realities of adolescents. The research advances the conversation about federally funded youth employment programs creating opportunities for marginalized youth to learn skills for succeeding in the mainstream economy.






Research & Evaluation Studies