Summer Youth Employment Program

The Intervention: Paid summer employment for up to six weeks in July and August

Who is Served: New York City youth age 14-24

The Challenge

The lack of accessible employment opportunities especially in periods with few scheduled activities can contribute among already at-risk young people to an increased likelihood of participating in delinquency and/or criminal behavior. This increased risk can expose youth to early involvement in the criminal justice system, itself a significant risk factor for future criminal involvement and poor education and life outcomes.1 Those young people who do become justice-involved often become disconnected from school, falling far behind their age-level peers in critical literacy and math skills, and thereafter struggle to find lasting employment.

Research shows that meaningful employment experiences have a positive impact on the prevention of youth involvement in crime. Engaging in career preparation services and meaningful employment opportunities has been found to increase a range of positive youth development outcomes including academic achievement, short- and long-term employability, positive connections in the community, health behaviors, and resiliency to trauma.2

The SYEP Approach

Since 2013, CASES has provided a Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) to young people who fit criteria for “vulnerable” youth designation as defined by the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), the primary funder of SYEP in New York City. As defined by DYCD, a young person is “vulnerable” if involved in the criminal justice, homeless, and/or child welfare/foster care system(s). Starting from orientation until the completion of six weeks of employment, CASES offers SYEP participants the following services:

  • Job-readiness workshops
  • Financial literacy workshops
  • Job placement and retention services

Through CASES’ provision of a range of support and treatment services for “vulnerable” youth, our SYEP participants can also access the following support services onsite at CASES as needed:

  • Education services including preparation and testing for a High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma
  • Ongoing employment-readiness and job placement services including Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG)
  • In-home family therapy (Adolescent Portable Therapy)
  • State-licensed mental health treatment at our Nathaniel Clinic (including integrated primary health care)
  • Assistance with obtaining public benefits and addressing civil legal needs
  • Linkages to a network of support and treatment providers across New York City

The Impact

Since selecting CASES as an SYEP provider in 2013, DYCD has steadily increased the size of CASES’ program, from 90 youth in 2013 to a current census of more than 300 youth annually. CASES places these young people in employment at small businesses, corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies across the city.


1 Harris, B.H., Jacome, E., Kearney, M,S., & Parker, L. (2014, May). Ten economic facts about crime and incarceration in the United States. Washington, D.C.: The Hamilton Project, The Brookings Institute. Retrieved from^

2 Wolk, Andrew (2013). A New Collaborative Model for Increased Social Impact: Public and Private Funder Alignment. Boston, MA.: Root Cause. Retrieved from^