Many organizations are working hard to help improve life outcomes for Michigan youth. As they do this, there is a growing demand for rigorous evidence about the potential effectiveness of policy interventions. And the raw material – the "data" – necessary to provide this evidence is increasingly available.
However, many public agencies and nonprofits do not have the resources to integrate the data, conduct analysis to identify and evaluate promising interventions, and then translate the findings into concrete policies. The Youth Policy Lab helps fill this gap.
The State of Michigan provides an ideal context in which to embed our initiative and undoubtedly, Michigan’s challenges run deep. Census data shows that over the past 10 year Michigan ranks last in municipal revenue growth and state investment in local government. Like many other rust belt regions, Michigan is working hard to redefine itself and create opportunities within a changing economy, shifting population, and increasingly polarized state and federal governments. For many reasons, there are fewer public resources for Michigan residents, and the need is high for innovative and improved public policies at both the state and local levels.
Yet Michigan is experiencing a resurgence and many organizations are committing resources to helping with its recovery. The State of Michigan, which experienced one of the longest and steepest economic declines in the nation due to the collapse of the automotive industry, is now steadily recovering from the Great Recession. Unemployment rates are lower, employment diversification is higher, and rates of homeownership are eighth highest in the country. There is momentum, interest and resilience, and many sincere, thoughtful efforts statewide to address key challenges that span education, health, safety and infrastructure.
The University of Michigan is committed to helping improve well-being for citizens of the state. As part of this effort, the Youth Policy Lab focuses on providing support to agencies and organizations statewide whose services directly impact outcomes for Michigan’s young people.