Strengthening School-to-Work Opportunities in the Big Apple

Midtown Manhatten, New York City,

Photo by Alexandra Iakovleva/Getty Images

In July 2016, the RAND Corporation was awarded a contract from the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity to evaluate the Scholars at Work program. Funded by the New York City Department of Small Business Services and the Department of Education, Scholars at Work is a highly competitive citywide program that engages students from participating schools in various interactive, classroom-based activities focused on career readiness. Following these activities, students are paired with transportation and manufacturing businesses for 13-week paid internships. By the end of the program, the students are expected to come away with solid work experience, knowledge about an industry and job they’re interested in, professional networks that will open doors to positions in high-demand sectors, and quite possibly, a job offer.

To understand whether the Scholars at Work program is effectively preparing youth in the city for opportunities in the labor market, RAND conducted a year-long, multi-method study that included:

  • Interviews with teachers at schools where the program is implemented
  • Interviews with participating employers
  • Focus groups with participating students
  • Analyses of program data

The study was led by Robert Bozick and Gabriella Gonzalez. It is housed in RAND Education and Labor and is part of the division’s broader mission to identify the most effective strategies for preparing young people for opportunities in an ever-changing global economy. For more information about the study, contact Robert Bozick at