R3 Using Evidence to Increase Youth Employment in Puerto Rico: Optimizing WIOA funding through use of evidence and data

This grant supplements a prior Rapid Response Research grant to the Youth Development Institute in Puerto Rico and John Martinez of MDRC, titled: “Connecting Puerto Rican Youth to Employment: Leveraging Disaster Recovery as a Pathway to Economic Security.”

The supplemental funds will be used to provide technical assistance to support Puerto Rico’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program’s youth employment unit. The program took interest in the policy recommendations that emerged from the initial grant, and is seeking to incorporate that research evidence as it navigates federal monitoring for compliance issues. This award will enable YDI to support the implementation of two recommendations that emerged from the initial work: 1) a shift towards a holistic youth-focused approach and 2) the use of evidence-based programs. Drawing upon the evidence synthesis from the previous project, YDI will provide technical assistance to inform the development of a program to fund demonstrations of holistic, evidence-informed youth workforce development programs. They will also support information sessions for potential applicants and the RFP selection committee. Next, YDI will support the development and review of the WIOA state plan by identifying policy and regulation levers that support the move toward evidence-informed holistic youth workforce development programs. This work will rely upon an analysis of the Puerto Rico Unified State Plan, WIOA 2020 reauthorization bills, and local laws and regulations. Based on this analysis, YDI will deliver concrete recommendations for optimizing the WIOA state plan and improving the services provided by the WIOA office’s youth workforce unit. The team will also develop and share resources for the unit, the State Workforce Board, and the local consortiums tasked with implementing youth employment services.

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