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.


Five Steps to More Meaningful Youth Engagement

JBS International, Inc.

My name is Matthew French and I work for JBS International, Inc. This blog draws upon research conducted under contract with USAID’s office of Education (read the full youth engagement report here), as well as my own experiences working with young people.

Adolescent Girls Empowerment Program (AGEP): Mid-Term Findings

Population Council

Social isolation, economic vulnerability, and lack of access to health care and education prevent healthy transitions from childhood to adulthood, especially for vulnerable adolescent girls in developing countries. In Zambia, poor girls often are at high risk of gender-based violence, unintended pregnancy, and HIV. Many drop out of school, are unable to find employment, lack the ability to make independent decisions, and are not being reached by existing programs for young people.

WEBINAR: Engaging Youth in Research

YouthPower Learning & American Evaluation Association (AEA)
Mar 15, 2017 (11:00am to 12:00pm)

Positive Youth Development Measurement Toolkit

USAID YouthPower Learning
In this toolkit, we provide implementers of youth programming a variety of references, resources, and tools on how to use a positive youth development (PYD) approach for evaluating youth-focused programming. A PYD approach to evaluation will measure whether youth are positively engaged in and benefiting from investments that ultimately empower them to develop in healthy and positive ways so that they can contribute to the development of their communities.
Resource Type: 

BLOG: 10 Lessons in 10 Years: Building the Youth Economic Opportunities Sector, Oct 2016

Making Cents International

A decade ago, I organized the first-ever global convening with the singular focus on how to increase the scale and sustainability of the youth economic opportunities sector. Fast forward ten years, to this past September, when 543 people from 53 countries gathered to share their knowledge, and celebrate the 10th anniversary of this event: The Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit. Clearly, we were on to something big. 

PRESENTATION: Pathways to Payoffs Identifying the Smoothest Road to Employment for At-Risk Youth, Sep 29

Save the Children, BRAC,

In Bangladesh, Farzanah, 15, drops out of school. Her parents threaten to kick her out if she doesn’t get a job. As an NGO, what should you do? Do you pay for her to attend an expensive vocational school? Give her a stipend to learn on the job? Teach her communication skills so she nails her first job interview? Using a youth avatar, participants will play a game to build the most successful pathway to employment for this young person. Presenters will then put the game results into perspective by revealing evidence from six countries comparing alternative routes to employment.

Resource Type: 

PRESENTATION: Moving Beyond ‘Faint Evidence’: Assessing Gender Differences in the Impact of Entrepreneurship Training in Tanzania, Sep 2016

The MasterCard Foundation, University of Minnesota

How can you make claims about the impact of a training program without a comparison group?  This session will focus on how to apply propensity score matching as one tool to assess the impact of youth entrepreneurship training programs.  This methodological approach was used and then disaggregated by gender to reveal important differences in outcomes for female youth in Tanzania.  This session is most suited to participants who have some familiarity with evaluation and research design, though the session does not require participants to have advanced statistical skills.  This session will be highly interactive, with opportunity for participants to discuss applications of this method to their own field settings.

Resource Type: 

PAPER: Decent Jobs for Youth What Works and What Matters, Sep 2016

World Bank, Industrial Training Council, The MasterCard Foundation, International Labour Organization

It is not easy to be young in the labour market today. Over 70 million youth are currently unemployed and many more are affected by informality and working poverty. What works to support them in the labour market? This is one of the most common and pressing questions posed by policymakers and practitioners today. The session will showcase the most recent, rigorous systematic review and meta-analysis of evidence, exploring success factors across skills training, entrepreneurship, employment services and subsidized employment interventions for youth. The session aims to leverage the collective expertise of the audience through an interactive dialogue.

Resource Type: 

PRESENTATION: Building Local MERL Capacity An Interactive and Phased Approach to Training Local Youth Serving Organizations, Sep 2016

Education Development Center

Want to make M&E capacity building fun and effective? This interactive workshop will introduce you to a highly participatory and phased training approach developed by EDC Akazi Kanoze in Rwanda. After participating in a mock training activity and learning about the local partners monitoring toolkit, you will be able to take this learning and apply it to your own work. 

Resource Type: 

PRESENTATION: USAID Positive Youth Development Mini Training, Sep 2016


This session, led by USAID will consist of a ‘mini-training’ geared to strengthen basic understanding of Positive Youth Development approaches and how to incorporate these into workforce development project design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation. Participants will also learn about opportunities to take a cross-sectoral approach when designing workforce programs.

Resource Type: