The Impact of SYEP


Violence Prevention

SYEP helps make our communities safer by providing youth with safe and productive opportunities during the summer. A study conducted in Boston showed that youth from low income neighborhoods who were engaged in a program similar to SYEP were less likely to be involved in violent crime or dangerous behavior than their peers. The study showed that youth who participated in the city’s summer employment program, when compared to their peers, were more likely to find work once the program was over and were less likely to use drugs and alcohol, exhibit signs of social isolation, or be involved in violent confrontations.

You can find the results of the study here

Other cities with similar programs have also shown decreases in youth violence thanks to summer youth employment. In Chicago, a study showed programs similar to SYEP led to a 51% drop in arrest rates among at risk youth, many of who had already had several encounters with law enforcement. You can find those results here

Another recent report in 2014 from the National Bureau of Economic Research, the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business and the University of California Berkley Goldman School of Public Policy on the effects of youth employment from New York City SYEP lotteries found that youth who participate in SYEP have decreased probabilities of incarceration as well as decreased probabilities of mortality. Their data estimates actually suggest that by October 2014, around 86 lives were saved by the four years of the SYEP program from 2005-2008. You can find the results of the study here.

In New York City, SYEP has the potential to produce similar results by providing at risk youth with a chance for meaningful and engaging employment. Already, SYEP offers resources and employment to 1,000 vulnerable and at-risk youth. Summer youth employment has also been a central part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initiative to improve public safety in and around New York City Housing Authority facilities. An expansion of SYEP will not only provide many more at-risk youth with valuable work experience, it will also help build safer communities.


Youth employment helps improve educational outcomes for young people and SYEP in particular has been shown to improve school attendance and performance. A study from NYU’s Steinhart School of Culture, Education and Human Development found that participation in SYEP increases school attendance by around 1.5%, or the equivalent of 2 additional school days among all participants. For youth who have attendance of less than 95% prior to participating in SYEP, the increase is significantly higher, closer to 3% or the equivalent of 4 additional school days. This means that participants in SYEP are less likely to drop out of high school because of low attendance.

The same study also showed that among students 16 and older, participation in SYEP greatly increased the likelihood that a student would take and pass the English and Math Regents Exams. SYEP participants were 3% more likely to attempt the English exam and 2% more likely to pass than their peers. The numbers for the Math exam are slightly lower but reflect the same trend, implying that participation in SYEP directly affects academic performance.

You can find the results of the study here

Community Development

SYEP not only provides youth with powerful opportunities, it helps make our communities stronger and more prosperous as SYEP participants help provide much needed services to all parts of New York City. Most SYEP participants work in non-profit and community-based organizations, government offices and local businesses, and educational and social service providers. Their work helps organizations provide vital services to the community, including child care and food assistance. At a CAMBA food bank in Brooklyn, SYEP employees make up 80% of the food bank’s summer staff. The youth who work there do everything from distributing food to community members to conducting food demos to running a hydroponic farm. Like the food bank, dozens of worksites rely on the work done by SYEP employees to operate normally and serve the community.

The income earned by SYEP participants is also more likely to be reinvested in the community and with local businesses. While many participants save a portion of their earnings, most chose to spend at least a portion of their money on clothes, food, and recreational activities, usually in businesses based near their worksites or homes. Many also used their earnings to contribute to household expenses, meaning that the bulk of the income from SYEP jobs is reinvested in the community.