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Program Description: During the 9- to 24-month, full-time YouthBuild program, young adults spend half of their time learning construction trade skills by building or rehabilitating affordable housing, community centers or schools. They spend the other half of their time in a YouthBuild classroom earning a high school diploma or equivalency degree. Personal counseling and training in life skills and financial management are provided. The students are part of a mini community of adults and youth committed to each other’s success and to improving the conditions in their neighborhoods.

Characteristics of Study Sample as Reported by Study Authors:


Results: Blueprints has certified one study evaluating YouthBuild. In a randomized controlled trial, Miller et al. (2016, 2018) examined 75 program sites with 3,929 youth randomly assigned within sites to intervention and control groups. The study followed participants for 48 months and found:

♦ At 30 months – 6 months after the maximum length of the program – intervention participants, compared with control participants, reported significantly higher rates of earning high school equivalency credentials, enrollment in college, and participation in vocational training, as well as slightly higher wages.

♦ At the 48-month survey, effects were sustained two years after the end of the program.

♦ Similarly, administrative data indicated higher rates of college attendance, degree attainment, employment in year 2, and earnings in year 1.

♦ Survey reports also indicated significantly higher levels of civic engagement for the intervention group.

Cost-Benefits: To date, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy has not conducted a cost-benefit analysis of implementing YouthBuild. However, Miller et al. (2018) conducted a cost-benefit analysis and found that the program benefits through four years did not outweigh the costs, though the authors suggested that benefits may continue to accrue over the participants’ lifetime.


Miller, C., Cummings, D., Millenky, M., Wiegand, A., & Long, D. (2018). Laying a foundation: Four-year results from the national YouthBuild evaluation. MDRC.

Miller, C., Millensky, M., Schwartz, L., Goble, L., & Stein, J. (2016). Building a future: Interim impact findings from the YouthBuild evaluation. New York: MDRC.

Read the Program Fact Sheet


Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development
University of Colorado Boulder
Institute of Behavioral Science
UCB 483, Boulder, CO 80309


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Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development is
currently funded by Arnold Ventures (formerly the Laura and John Arnold Foundation) and historically has received funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.