This cross-cutting theme focuses on improving the effectiveness, sustainability, and scale of programs by sharing data on what works and what doesn’t, and methodologies for monitoring, evaluation, and impact assessment.   Improved practices in this area promise to provide stakeholders with enhanced understanding of which interventions have meaningful impact, what the likely return on investment will be, and how to design and implement improved monitoring and evaluation initiatives.

Where are we now?

As the YEO field matures, pilot programs and anecdotal data have given way to increasingly sophisticated approaches to program measurement and learning. These advances are critical to scale, replication, policy and government partnership initiatives. However, more work remains. Confusion about the purpose and practice of monitoring, evaluation and assessment, and the way it can contribute to learning with an organization or program still exists.  A common language for this area along with standardized measures of cost and benefit are also necessary to ensure discussions are productive and evaluations reflect a common framework of practice.

Trends and emerging practices

  • Donors are advocating for more rigorous evaluation to ensure greater accountability and learning.
  • Although randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are the gold standard, they can be expensive and time consuming, leading some donors to find quasi-experimental and impact evaluations very appealing, while others invest more significantly in M&E activities.
  • For corporations and foundations, evaluations are important to measure the social value proposition and social impact of their investments to consumers, customers, and employees.
  • More implementers are recognizing the importance of investing in good M&E, so they can demonstrate to donors their organization's social value proposition, particularly to impact investors.
  • More organizations are successfully using mixed methods approaches (both quantitative and qualitative data) to M&E.
  • Survey and focus group tools should be tested and finalized with young people for tools to achieve greater reliability and validity.
  • Data from young people should be triangulated with data from significant adults in their lives (such as parents, guardians, and teachers) to contextualize its meaning and importance.
  • More organizations are recognizing that existing M&E staff may not have the skills set required to engage young people, so training on how to conduct youth-inclusive M&E is important. 
  • Young people are not homogeneous, so questions need to be framed differently for young men and young women, youth from urban and rural communities, and/or youth from different socio-economic groups.


Measuring the Economic Gain of Investing in Girls: The Girl Effect Dividend.

The World Bank Group

The objective of this paper is to quantify the opportunity cost of girls' exclusion from productive employment with the hope that stark figures will lead policymakers to reconsider the current underinvestment in girls. The paper explores the linkages between investing in girls and potential increases in national income by examining three widely prevalent aspects of adolescent girls' lives: early school dropout, teenage pregnancy and joblessness. The countries included in the analysis are: Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, China, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Paraguay, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.

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Intentions to Participate in Adolescent Training Programs: Evidence from Uganda

London School of Economics, World Bank Group, University College London

In this paper, the authors analyze factors that contribute or detract from adolescent girls’ intention to participate in training programs in Uganda. The authors focus on BRAC’s Adolescent Development Program, which emphasizes the provision of life skills, entrepreneurship training, and microfinance.

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Technical and Vocational Education and Training: A Study of Promising Models in International Development

Educational Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP3)

This paper examines four approaches to technical and vocational education and training used by USAID in South Africa, Indonesia, Georgia, and Morocco between 2007 and 2012 and is based on a 2010 desk review. This review examines how the four programs perform according to nine elements of highly effective workforce development and technical and vocational education and training systems.

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Non-Public Provision of Active Labor Market Programs in Arab-Mediterranean Countries: An Inventory of Youth Programs

The World Bank Group

This note presents and analyzes the main design features of a variety of non-publicly provided Active Labor Market Programs in Arab-Mediterranean Countries, with a specific focus on programs targeted at youth. Programs from nine countries are included in the inventory: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen.

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Youth Economic Opportunities Online Portal

Making Cents International

The Youth Economic Opportunities learning platform is the first community of practice and knowledge exchange portal developed by and for the youth economic opportunities sector. The online portal offers an open and innovative environment for collaborative and dynamic learning and knowledge sharing around the following technical areas and cross-cutting themes: Workforce Development, Financial Services, Enterprise Development, Gender, and Evaluation & Assessment. We are dedicated to: Connecting and sharing knowledge, experiences, and lessons learned; Exchanging the latest resources, jobs, and funding opportunities; and Impacting the world’s 1.8 billion young people.

Executive Summary

The Global Youth Economic Opportunities (YEO)1 field seeks to grow evidence-based, sustainable, scalable, and cost-effective programs and policies that address the root causes of youth unemployment while increasing the opportunities young people have to obtain a decent job or start a successful business.


This publication is a consolidation and synthesis of the lessons learned, promising practices, common challenges, and recommended next steps that participants highlighted during Making Cents International’s 2011 Global Youth Economic Opportunities Conference (GYEOC). Rather than an exhaustive review of global practice, the publication features the current state and evolution of the field. The experiences and ideas in this publication detail how many members of the global community are building upon the past and working towards achieving ambitious goals for the future of the field.