Connected Youth Initiative

Social Innovation Fund (SIF) Evaluation Report Highlights (January 2020)

In 2015, the Corporation for National and Community Service awarded a Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grant to Nebraska Children and Families Foundation. The grant was used to expand our successful Connected Youth Initiative (CYI) model to rural communities across the state to help unconnected youth, including young people aging out of foster care, to become thriving citizens.

WestEd, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research, development, and service agency, recently completed an independent study of CYI as part of the SIF grant. A key feature of the study was its use of a rigorous, quasi-experimental design, which observes differences in outcomes between a treatment and comparison group.

Using data that drew from Transitional Services Survey, interviews with Nebraska Children and provider partners, the study’s primary respondents were unconnected young adults and CYI participants living in one of 40 Nebraskan counties associated with six community collaboratives who received SIF grants.

The study’s primary question: to what extent does CYI improve dimensions of well-being for the young persons who participated compared to similar young people who did not participate?

We have promising, preliminary results that participation in CYI may be associated with:

  • 3.8x greater odds of having a safe and stable living situation
  • 1.8x greater odds of having enough funds for expenses and 4x greater odds of having a savings account
  • Estimated 13% improvement in perceived hope
  • Up to 71% lower odds of multiple ER visits

Implementation study findings highlight that:

  • Young adults engage with CYI in a wide variety of ways, with sixteen different types of programming/services combinations
  • Some communities indicated that setting the CYI model within a collaborative infrastructure often generated greater awareness and understanding of the unconnected youth population within the community

While findings from the impact study are promising, they should be interpreted with caution due to a few study limitations. Specifically, there were some differences between treatment and comparison groups at the start of the study, and there were some participant attrition challenges. Nevertheless, we are encouraged by this news and will continue to share out the full results as they become available. These indicators may be linked to hope and success, which encourage our vision of a Nebraska where all children and youth thrive.

The full report will soon be published at the CNCS Evidence Exchange.

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