The Intervention: Jobs for America’s Graduates New York (JAG NY)
Who is Served: Young people age 17–24 who are out of school and unemployed
Young people who drop out of high school and do not earn an equivalency credential are at a significant risk for negative life outcomes. In 2012, the median income of adults who had not completed high school was roughly $25,000 compared with $46,000 among those with at least a high school credential1. There is also a strong correlation between disparities in health and education, leading some researchers to frame school dropout as a public health issue2. Factors such as race, gender, and poverty further complicate the situations of people who exit high school without a diploma. For example, low-income young males of color who drop out of high school are more likely at any future point in their lives to be incarcerated than employed3.
The JAG Approach
To support improved career outcomes for young people who have left the traditional school system—with a focus on those who have become involved in the criminal legal system—CASES provides the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) Out-of-School (OOS) program as the first-ever implementation of the JAG model in New York. CASES’ JAG NY program engages young people in individual career counseling, soft and hard job skills training, service/entrepreneurial projects in the community, and job placement services with the aim of connecting participants to a career-aspirational job and/or enrollment in a postsecondary education/training program.
JAG NY provides six months of active services, including a highly structured, module-based employment-readiness curriculum; youth-led community service/entrepreneurship projects; and paid internship placements. This active phase is followed by 12 months of aftercare to support participants’ retention and success in job placements and/or postsecondary education. In addition, JAG NY participants have access to a full range of CASES’ wraparound services, including:
- Education: onsite high school equivalency (HSE) prep classes and testing
- Clinical support: behavioral health services including outpatient mental health treatment and primary care services at CASES’ Nathaniel Clinic
- Benefits assistance: support for obtaining health coverage and/or public benefits along with required documents to support the attainment of employment
At the heart of the JAG approach is the partnership between the JAG Specialist and the participating young person. This partnership emphasizes a hybrid of coaching and case management as the young person identifies and works toward their individual goals and aspirations while also often navigating challenges related to system involvement, trauma, and systemic inequities.