In 2011, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick provided funding to 11 cities to identify and engage youth at “proven risk” for serious violence through the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI). The program has expanded over the years to now serve 14 cities across the state and is run through the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS). SSYI uses a multi-faceted community-based strategy that links nearly 2,000 proven risk youth, ages 17-24, each year with community partners to provide supports for employment, housing, mental health, education, and family services. The WestEd Justice & Prevention Research Center and the American Institutes for Research have served as the external evaluators for SSYI since 2013.
In the initial evaluation of SSYI released in 2014, the WestEd-AIR team demonstrated initial positive effects for SSYI, including a reduction of nearly 1,000 violent victimizations in SSYI communities between 2011 and 2013. At a client-level, the evaluation found that participants engaged in the initiative were 58% less likely to be incarcerated compared to similar young men in the community. SSYI was later highlighted by the Giffords Law Center in a national report as a model for statewide violence prevention strategies.
Products from the earlier evaluations can be found at AIR’s SSYI project page.
2018 SSYI Evaluation: Key Findings
The most recent SSYI evaluation, commissioned by EOHHS, has demonstrated the continued impact of SSYI on community-level crime and client-level behaviors that ultimately save SSYI cities $5.10 in victimization costs for every dollar invested in SSYI. Other highlights from the 2018 evaluation include:
- SSYI cities have experienced greater rates of decline for violent offenses and victimization since 2012 relative to non-SSYI cities.
- Overall, more than 800 fewer violent crime victims in SSYI cities each year through 2018.
- Since SSYI inception, SSYI clients were involved in 36 percent fewer for violent offenses and 20 percent fewer non-violent offenses relative to youth identified for the program and never enrolled.
- SSYI client surveys and stories highlight the importance of SSYI for providing support, access to resources, and improved beliefs of self-worth and likelihood to change.