As you know, the daily operation of a YouthBuild program requires intentional planning and continuous quality improvement in order to meet the needs of youth participants and the demands of grant requirements.  The real-world implementation of the program proposal that won the DOL YouthBuild grant requires many diverse tools and resources.

DOL YouthBuild Program Planning and Program Design

September is a busy month for all grantees, whether you are a 2015 grantee in the close-out phase of your grant, a 2016 grantee winding down your active programming, or a 2017 grantee gearing up for a new cohort of participants. This newsletter provides some essential reminders of best practices and resources as grantees continue to work tirelessly to provide quality YouthBuild programming to young people in communities across the country. YouthBuild program planning and design starts off with a detailed map, the Statement of Work (SOW). The SOW is a living document! Use your SOW as a guide to ensure compliance, implementation of the program design, and day-to-day program management.  The SOW is also a key tool to ensure stakeholders understand the program and their role. During the grant period of performance, grantees need to revisit the SOW regularly.  Knowing what the SOW states can assist grantees to consider modifications along the way (in consultation with the Federal Project Officer (FPO)) to ensure compliance and the best model for the YouthBuild program. The FPO is a crucial resource for programs, providing guidance and technical assistance.  Additionally, there is robust technical assistance provided in conjunction with DOL’s YouthBuild technical assistance contractor, YouthBuild USA. Peer programs are also a great resource for technical assistance, best practices for everything from program design and data management to partnerships and placement strategies.  The YouthBuild Community of Practice provides access to all of the above and should be a lynchpin of every program’s grant toolbox.  This is discussed further below in this newsletter.

There are some key program strategy reminders and questions that can guide ongoing program implementation review and improvement:

  • Recruitment and Enrollment - pay attention to your enrollment goals, the population of young people you committed to serve (age, needs, zip codes, eligibility criteria, etc.) and adjust your plans along the way to ensure you reach your goal while remaining compliant. What is your recruitment plan? Do you have a calendar for Mental Toughness and enrollment of cohorts?Will you be using rolling admissions?Do you have a “Plan B” if the program is under-enrolled based on the SOW and grant period of performance?

  • Partnership Management - program success depends on partnerships, including partners that provide core programming support, the required partnership with your local American Job Center, and employer and post-secondary partners. Partnership development is the beginning, and ongoing partner management is required for success.Are you regularly assessing your partners, networking to connect with new partners, and reviewing existing partnership MOUs for continuous strengthening and improved leveraging of resources?

  • Staffing - hiring and onboarding of staff, as well as continuous staff development, are critical to program success. Are all required and planned staff positions in place at your YouthBuild program? Are program components staffed in-house or through subcontracted partners? Every staff member and partner that is implementing core programming needs to understand the SOW, program goals, and performance measures, along with the progress gains and setbacks during the grant performance period. In the September 2018webinar, we will share a number of tips and resources that you can use to ensure consistent staff development using available resources.

  • Case Management and Supportive Services - these are critical elements of the YouthBuild model. Case managers ensure that youth have the support they need to be successful in the program.They are often the first point of contact when participants are having difficulties and ensure youth have the supportive services they need to be successful.They also are often the staff tracking participant progress and entering or communicating the data entry for services and outcomes.But, case managers can’t do this work alone, so programs need to leverage organizational support and partnerships to meet the complex needs of youth participants at each phase of the participants’ engagement.

  • Management Information System (MIS)/Data Management - your MIS and data management planning has to align with the program design and implementation. Because data is how each grant demonstrates effectiveness to DOL, this is a particularly important area of focus and organization for grantees.Further down in this newsletter, you will find specific information and reminders to ensure effective data management and accurate reporting.

  • Academics - whether the program provides an opportunity for youth to gain a high school diploma or state-recognized equivalent (i.e. GED, HiSET, etc.), it is essential that academic instruction be flexible to meet the needs of a wide range of learners. How does your program assess students’ academic levels and measure gains along the way?How does the program ensure the ability to instruct learners with differing levels of literacy or learning disabilities?

  • Construction - make sure the program plan and construction training aligns with the number of housing units that need to be completed, the competency goals for the vocational certification(s), and that participants are gaining transferable skills through quality training and meaningful work site experience.Effectively managing the hands-on work site projects so that every youth has an opportunity for hands-on learning is a key area of compliance risk for YouthBuild grants.Housing projects can fall through and leave a program near the end of their period of performance with no required work site completed if programs aren’t ensuring a strong and varied pipeline of construction projects.How is your program mitigating this risk?

  • Construction Plus - the Construction Plus Framework was released in June 2018. If you are a Construction Plus grantee or aspire to add Construction Plus in future grant proposals, it is critical that you assess and align your Construction Plus program with the framework. Engage with local partners, including American Job Centers, industry employers, and training partners, to maximize the opportunities available to participants in the selected in-demand industr(ies).

There are resources available on the Workforce GPS YouthBuild Community of Practice and the CareerOneStop website, among others.  Be sure to register for the September 11th webinar, Building Your Toolbox for Success: Program Design and WIOA Resource Spotlights, which will highlight a number of resources and best practices related to program planning, program management, and performance outcomes.

DOL YouthBuild and WIOA Reporting

Data is one of the most important ways a program can tell the story of their participants. Each YouthBuild program is different, and has different resources available to them. Data management, technology, and online reporting tools are a critical part of every YouthBuild program’s success.

Key to this important work for 2016 and 2017 grantees is an understanding of the WIOA performance reporting process in the YouthBuild MIS. In addition to understanding these new reports and how to submit them, it is crucial that grantees also understand the performance indicators and plan program design and participant timelines for success.  Many resources and materials have been developed to support this complex area of work:

DOL YouthBuild WIOA Performance Indicators: 2016 and 2017 Grantees - This document is a cheat sheet that highlights the WIOA performance indicators, provides the definitions and context for the measures, and explains which are currently in use and which are still being implemented.

WIOA Report Templates and User Guide: The MIS Help Desk can provide grantees the most updated Median Earnings and Measurable Skill Gains report (ME+MSG) template, as well as a comprehensive user guide covering the ME+MSG and WIOA Supplemental reports. Email the MIS Help Desk at to get the latest materials. 

TEGL 10-16, Change 1 and TEGL 26-16: These Training and Employment Guidance Letters provide important guidance related to WIOA reporting and the performance indicators reported on in the Median Earnings and Measurable Skill Gains report. Review the performance outcomes and guidance pages for each Measurable Skill and the Median Earnings below:

  • Measurable Skill Gain - EFL gains: See Page 19 of TEGL 10-16, Change 1
  • Measurable Skill Gain - HSE/HSD Attainment: See Page 19 of TEGL 10-16, Change 1
  • Measurable Skill Gain - Meeting State Unit's Academic Standards: See Page 20 of TEGL 10-16, Change 1
  • Measurable Skill Gain - Progress Towards Milestones: See Page 20 of TEGL 10-16, Change 1
  • Measurable Skill Gain - Trade Related Benchmarks: See Page 21 of TEGL 10-16, Change 1 (link below).
  • Median Earnings in Quarter 2 of the Follow-Up Period: TEGL 26-16 starting on page 7

WIOA Performance Indicators Summer E-Learning Series – DOL has released a series of 4 e-learning modules that relate to the WIOA performance indicators for credential attainment, measurable skill gains, employment rate for the second and fourth quarter, and median earnings.  These self-paced, narrated modules include definitions, detailed calculations, various real-life scenarios, knowledge checks with explanations, and related resources.

MIS Help Desk Services

In addition to phone and email support for general data entry questions, the MIS Help Desk offers trainings aimed at helping grantees understand the performance indicators, timing, and reporting processes reviewed in this newsletter. Trainings are offered weekly at the below times:

  • Data Entry Trainings are held Tuesdays at 2PM ET and Fridays 10AM ET
  • MIS Report Trainings are held Wednesdays 3PM ET

In addition to the regularly scheduled webinar trainings, there will be a special WIOA reports training on September 12th at 3pm ET. This training will review the new WIOA reporting processes, including building and submitting the reports, for DOL YouthBuild 2016 and 2017 grantees. Registration will go live soon and will be included in the September MIS Newsletter.  If you are not currently receiving the monthly MIS Newsletter and would like to, please reach out to the MIS Help Desk at the email below.

The MIS Help Desk also offers comprehensive data reviews for individual programs. During these reviews, we will examine your program's reports, review measures, and investigate errors or problem areas. Data reviews can also address any other concerns you have about data entry or effective data management.

Please reach out to the MIS Help Desk to schedule a training or review or to sign up for the MIS Newsletter.