Midterm Evaluation Report Performance
Evaluation of the At-Risk Youth Activity
The Dominican Republic is home to a large population of youth considered at risk for becoming perpetrators and victims of crime, violence, and other risky behaviors. The At-Risk Youth (ARY) Activity was designed to respond to the needs of at-risk youth with the long-term goal of implementing a sustainable, multi-disciplinary safety net for at-risk youth that also prevents crime.
- The available evidence generally suggests that the ARY Activity had a positive effect on youth returning to and staying in school, as well as on the use of contraception during sexual activity. For alcohol use, the evaluation finds that although the number of individuals consuming alcohol has decreased, the extent of drinking among those who do consume alcohol is rising.
- The evidence is more ambiguous or mixed regarding the program's effect on involvement in criminal and violent behaviors, drug use, employment, and likelihood of starting one's own business.
This mixed-method evaluation incorporated the use of interviews, focus groups, and a youth survey. For the qualitative analyses, the evaluation team (ET) conducted 58 interviews and 17 focus group discussions between October 13 and 28, 2016, with project stakeholders including sub-awardees, beneficiaries, and others. The ET conducted random sampling for project participants, while using purposive sampling for other respondent groups, with input from USAID. For the quantitative analyses, the team conducted 606 youth outcome surveys with randomly selected project participants between October 19 and November 21, 2016.
The key findings and conclusions for each of the key research questions are:
- Regarding youth outcomes, the evaluation found that, though the quantitative data were unable to definitively measure impacts, beneficiaries and stakeholders cited strong benefits from the program;
- Regarding the key factors influencing success in achieving outcomes, the evaluation found that challenges with the complexity of implementation and community factors such as violence were the key limiters to success;
- Regarding sustainability, the evaluation found that, despite the program's positive reviews, a sustainable source of funding and management has yet to be identified;
- Regarding sub-awardee capacity building, though some challenges were encountered, organizations benefited from their participation in the ARY Activity; and
- Regarding stakeholder perceptions of the program, the ARY Activity received very positive reviews from stakeholders.
These findings and conclusions resulted in recommendations for USAID regarding project implementation and project monitoring systems, a recommendation for the GoDR to continue making investments to reduce violence in communities, and several thematic recommendations that would help improve the design and implementation of future programs like the ARY Activity.