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Review the research behind our model, along with tools and case studies from the field that inform City Year’s holistic approach to supporting students and schools. For a more comprehensive look at our research base, please click here.

Graduation landscape

Framework for Action: Building a Corps for Student Success

We have the evidence base, practical know-how and resources to respond to community needs and increase local capacity in schools through a Corps for Student Success, which will help our educators, practitioners and families address learning and developmental impacts of COVID-19 on young people and lay a foundation to address longstanding educational inequities. Download the Framework for Action.

Don’t call them dropouts: Understanding the experiences of young people who leave high school before graduation

Center for Promise, America’s Promise Alliance (2014)

This report captures what young people had to say about the experiences and decisions that lead to leaving high school before graduation. Download the report.

On Track for Success: The Use of Early Warning Indicator and Intervention Systems to Build a Grad Nation.

Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University (2011)

This report offers a comprehensive view on early warning indicator and intervention systems (EWS), informed by site visits and interviews with educators in sixteen districts and seven states. The report overviews the research, shares emerging best practices from the field, and provides policy recommendations. Download the report.

The Consequences of Dropping Out of High School.

Center for Labor Studies, Northeastern University (2009)

This report examines unemployment rates and other problems such as lower earnings and higher incarceration rates that affect young adult dropouts more disproportionately than their better-educated peers. Download the report.

How students learn

Clover Model of Youth Development

The PEAR Institute

Through many years of research and practical experience, Dr. Gil Noam and The PEAR Institute have developed a youth development model called “Clover.” The Clover Model highlights four essential elements, or “leaves,” that people of all ages need to thrive, learn and grow: Active Engagement; Assertiveness; Belonging; and Reflection. This framework provides a common language and promotes an environment for both adults and students to make meaning of experiences, capitalize on strengths, and build new skills. Clover supports the formation of positive developmental relationships, implementation of a range of youth development practices throughout the school day, and the fostering of social-emotional skill development. Learn more about the model.

How the Science of Learning and Development Can Transform Education: Initial Findings.

SoLD Alliance (2019)

This brief summarizes several initial lessons from contemporary research on the science of learning and development that have significant implications for those working to advance opportunity, equity, learning, and youth development. Download the report.

From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope.

Recommendations from the National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development (SEAD), The Aspen Institute (2018)

Drawing on input from more than 200 scientists, youth and parent groups, educators, and policymakers, the National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development’s final report, “From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope,” seeks to accelerate and strengthen efforts to support the whole learner in local communities through recommendations for researchers, educators, and policymakers. Download the report.

The Evidence Base for How We Learn: Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development.

Consensus Statements of Evidence From the Council of Distinguished Scientists, National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (SEAD), The Aspen Institute (2017)

The research brief presents a set of consensus statements from the SEAD Commission’s Council of Distinguished Scientists that affirm the interconnectedness of social, emotional, and academic development as central to the learning process. Drawing from brain science, medicine, economics, psychology, and education research, the brief describes why it is essential to address the social, emotional, and cognitive dimensions of learning; how these dimensions together shape students’ academic and life outcomes; and how these competencies can be taught throughout childhood, adolescence, and beyond. Download the report.

Promoting Positive Youth Development Through School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Interventions: A Meta-Analysis of Follow-Up Effects.

CASEL (2017)

This meta-analysis analyzed results from 82 different social and emotional learning (SEL) interventions involving more than 97,000 students from kindergarten to high school and found that programs that teach SEL in schools have long-term impact. Download the study.

Foundations for Young Adult Success: A Developmental Framework.

UChicago Consortium on School Research (2015)

Amid growing recognition that strong academic skills alone are not enough for young people to become successful adults, this comprehensive report offers wide-ranging evidence to show what young people need to develop from preschool to young adulthood to succeed in college and career, have healthy relationships, be engaged citizens, and make wise choices. It concludes that rich experiences combining action and reflection help children develop a set of critical skills, attitudes, and behaviors. And it suggests that policies should aim to ensure that all children have consistent, supportive relationships and an abundance of these developmental experiences through activities inside and outside of school. Download the paper.

Relationships & mentoring

Don’t quit on me: What young people who left school say about the power of relationships

Center for Promise, America’s Promise Alliance, 2014

This report examines, from the perspective of young people themselves, the roles that relationships with adults and peers play in decisions about stying in, leaving and returning to high school. Download the report.

Mindset Kit

The Project for Education Research that Scales (PERTS)

The Mindset Kit was created by The Project for Education Research that Scales (PERTS) at Stanford University, to provide research-based toolkits and resources intended to improve students’ mindsets and make them better learners. The Mindset Kit offers targeted resources for parents, educators and mentors. In partnership with MENTOR and PERTS, City Year piloted the Growth Mindset for Mentors toolkit, available here. Learn more about the Mindset Kit.
Read about how one City Year location is using the toolkit to explore growth mindset with their students.

Relationships First: Creating Connections that Help Young People Thrive.

The Search Institute (2017)

Growing evidence suggests that strategically and systematically investing in building developmental relationships can be catalytic for effective education, programs, and services for children, youth, and families. This booklet introduces what Search Institute is learning about developmental relationships and provides some starting points for action by organizations and leaders dedicated to children and youth. Download the report.

Handbook of Youth Mentoring, Chapter 7: Mentoring Relationships in Developmental Perspective.

Gil G. Noam, Tina Malti & Michael J. Karcher (2013)

The Handbook of Youth Mentoring presents the only comprehensive synthesis of current theory, research, and practice in the field of youth mentoring. In chapter 7 of the book, the authors provide a review of theories and research on the mentoring of the developing child and adolescent and introduce a new framework that can help inform mentoring practices and programs to address developmental needs and opportunities of young people. Read the book.

Developmental Relationships as the Active Ingredient: A Unifying Working Hypothesis of “What Works” Across Intervention Settings.

Junlei Li and Megan Julian (2012)

Using empirical studies as case examples, this study demonstrates that the presence or absence of developmental relationships distinguishes effective and ineffective interventions for diverse populations across developmental settings. The conclusion is that developmental relationships are the foundational metric with which to judge the quality and forecast the impact of interventions for at-risk children and youth. Download the report.

Whole School Improvement

Findings from the First Decade and What’s Next

Diplomas Now (2016)

How an evidence-based, collaborative, whole school improvement model, leveraging AmeriCorps members and early warning systems, can accelerate student and school success. Read the report.

Reflections on a Decade-Long Quest to Make Education Evidence-Based

Bob Balfanz (2016)

Bob Balfanz, director of the Everyone Graduates Center and co-founder of Diplomas Now, on the early impact results from MDRC’s on-going, independent evaluation and randomized field trial of the Diplomas Now mode. Read blog post.

Organizational Strategy

Creating a Partnership Strategy: A Field Guide.

Community Wealth Partners (2019)

This field guide aims to support organizations as they explore partnership strategies for greater impact. The guide provides actionable tools, questions to explore, and examples of what this work looked like for City Year. Download the case study [PDF].

This nonprofit’s digital transformation empowers employees to pursue a nationwide mission.

Microsoft Customer Stories (2019)

Microsoft highlights how City Year used its data analytics tools to put smarter, more complete data in the hands of staff and AmeriCorps members so that City Year is better positioned to provide students with the support they need—and build the foundation for a promising future. Read the case study.

City Year at 30: Toward Long-Term Impact.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter and James Weber, Harvard Business School (2018)

A new Harvard Business School (HBS) case study examines City Year’s three-decade history, highlighting the organization’s “ambitious impact strategy” aimed at making a substantial improvement in high school graduation rates. “City Year at 30‎: Toward Long-Term Impact” explores City Year’s efforts to transform itself over time to create an organization capable of delivering on its Long-Term Impact (LTI) strategy, taking a closer look at how the organization evolved its program, operations and fundraising model to better align with strategy and position the organization to reach its LTI goals. City Year has previously been featured in several other HBS case studies, which are all part of HBS’s curriculum and can be purchased on the Harvard Business Publishing website.

Disclaimer: Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter and Assistant Director James Weber (Case Research & Writing Group) prepared the original version of this case, “City Year: The Journey,” HBS No. 311-080. This version was prepared by the same authors. It was reviewed and approved before publication by a company designate. Funding for the development of this case was provided by Harvard Business School and not by the company. Professor Kanter has been a long-term member of the City Year Board of Trustees. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Purchase the case study.

Data as a Means, Not an End: A Brief Case Study.

Tracie Neuhaus & Jarasa Kanok, Stanford Social Innovation Review. (2016)

This case study from Deloitte Consulting LLP summarizes how City Year tackled “measurement drift” by reorienting its measurement activities around one simple premise: Data should support better decision-making. Read the case study.

National Strategic Partners
National Partners