New Study Demonstrates How Providing Jobs to Young People Reduces Crime and Provides Tremendous Return on Investment

By Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network

Yesterday I was excited, but not entirely surprised, to read about a new study published in the journal Science about how a cohort of Chicago teenagers were affected by access to summer employment. The conclusion of the study, conducted by University of Pennsylvania criminologist Sara Heller, is that when you give a young person a summer job, he or she is significantly less likely to commit a violent crime. More on that in a moment.

These days, you no longer hear people talking about “disadvantaged youth” or “at-risk youth.” Today we talk about “opportunity youth”: low-income young people who are out of school and out of work, but who seek opportunities to advance their education or career and can offer a great deal to our country if we invest in them and provide access to resources like job training or college prep.

Those of us who work with opportunity youth know firsthand how valuable these young people are. Many of them have experienced extreme poverty, violence, incarceration, addiction and abuse, but they are eager to learn and fiercely determined to not be held back by their circumstances.

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