Search for Programs to Help YouthSearch for Programs to Help Youth

Career Beginnings

Ages 16-18

Rating: Level 2


Career Beginnings was developed to enhance the life options of disadvantaged, urban high school students. The program is a school–community–university partnership that offers a comprehensive package for juniors and seniors with college potential who, because of their average grades or economically educationally disadvantaged family backgrounds, would be otherwise unlikely to pursue college or better career options. Though the program targets disadvantaged students, it concentrates on those who demonstrate commitment and motivation. Career Beginnings offers services to help guide students through the college admissions process or through the process of finding full-time employment. Some of the services offered include tutoring, help with college or financial aid applications, job information, and career fairs. Another component of the program involves providing mentors who support students in exploring college and career options through educational workshops, career-specific training, and high-quality summer work experiences.


A total of 1,574 students, over seven diverse sites, were randomly assigned to either the program or a control condition (control group individuals did not participate in Career Beginnings but could receive other services from their schools or communities). Students were eligible for the study if they had average grades and attendance but showed motivation such as being involved in school or community activities or having a part-time job. The requirements for each site were that at least 50 percent of the site’s enrollees had to come from disadvantaged families (as rated by eligibility for enrollment in the Job Training Partnership Act), at least 80 percent had to come from families where no parent had earned a graduated degree, and 45 percent had to be male. Follow-up interviews occurred 1 and 2 years after the beginning of program.


The Career Beginnings study found several positive outcomes. High school attendance was slightly higher for participants than for control group individuals. Participants reported having higher occupational aspirations. The program succeeded in increasing participants’ college attendance in the year immediately following graduation. Across seven diverse sites, the proportion of participants who enrolled in a 2- or 4-year college rose 5 percent over nonparticipants. Limitations of the study are that there was a wide range of delivery compliance among the sites—that is, many of the control group students received services and some of the experimental group did not participate in program services. Long-term follow-up for the rates of college graduation and occupational outcomes were not available.

Risk Factors


  • Life stressors


  • Low parent education level/Illiteracy

Protective Factors


  • Healthy / Conventional beliefs and clear standards
  • High expectations
  • Perception of social support from adults and peers
  • Positive / Resilient temperament
  • Positive expectations / Optimism for the future
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social competencies and problem-solving skills


  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults
  • Prosocial opportunities for participation / Availability of neighborhood resources


  • CDC


Cave, G., and J. Quint. 1990. Career Beginnings Impact Evaluation: Findings From a Program for Disadvantaged High School Students. New York, N.Y.: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation. ERIC Number: ED 325598.


William M. Bloomfield
School & Main Institute
750 Washington Street, NEMC Box 328
Boston, MA 02011
Phone: (800) 873-2120
Fax: (617) 227-2107
Web site:

Technical Assistance Provider

William M. Bloomfield
School & Main Institute
750 Washington Street, NEMC Box 328
Boston, MA 02011
Phone: (800) 873-2120
Fax: (617) 636-9158
Web site: