Launch: An Innovative Approach to Reaching Opportunity Youth. A Field Scan.

In spring 2018, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) began funding Launch, an innovative approach to reaching opportunity youth (OY); namely, using state-subsidized housing as a mechanism for identifying, engaging, and connecting OY to education and career pathways. By targeting youth who are in subsidized housing, Launch is addressing the housing instability of many OY. This is a new way for DHCD, and other housing agencies, to think about economic stability. As part of DHCD’s ongoing evaluation efforts of Launch, it was interested in how this new approach to supporting OY fits into broader efforts to support this population. As the evaluation partner for Launch, the Forum for Youth Investment conducted this field scan in the winter of 2020. Data sources for this scan included research on opportunity youth, housing-related programs, and cost-benefit analysis, as well as internet-based research on evidence-based programming. Inquiries were made of federal staff in the Departments of Labor and Housing and Urban Development and Mathematica (which provided a review for the evaluations of Performance Pilot Program sites).
The scan is organized into three sections:
• An overview of the Launch initiative
• The evidence base that investing in programs to support OY can lead to positive outcomes for youth and for society
• Key features of interventions to support OY in the context of Launch