About Right Turn

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The Right Turn Career-Focused Transition Initiative (Right Turn) provides a career development process for youth that are involved with or at risk of becoming involved with the juvenile justice system. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (DOL-ETA) and led by the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), Right Turn is being implemented in high-crime and high-poverty communities across the country by non-profit and local organizations with expertise in career development, education, mentoring, youth development, juvenile justice, and disability.

A Right Turn participant gets on the job training at a kitchen.Right Turn provides individualized education, training, and workforce development opportunities by engaging youth in a three-phase career development process that includes self-exploration, career exploration, and career planning and management. Youth meet regularly with program staff, mentors, and other caring adults to develop and implement an Individualized Career Development Plan (ICDP). Through weekly goal-setting based on each youth’s ICDP, Right Turn promotes employment, continued learning opportunities, and independent living.

Through this process, all youth will: identify their personal strengths and interests; learn about specific careers through employer guest speakers, informational interviews, and workplace visits; complete soft skills training; obtain hands-on work experience through summer jobs, internships, employment, and restorative justice projects; set and achieve education and training goals that align with personal career goals such as obtaining a high school diploma or GED, earning an industry-recognized credential, or pursuing postsecondary education; and receive ongoing support from case managers, mentors, and other caring adults.

Right Turn is based on a number of IEL-created foundational materials, as well as IEL’s experience operating the youth career-focused mentoring model, the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP).

The Results 

The first cohort of sites for Right Turn served 1,015 youth in 5 communities across the country (Los Angeles, Houston, Nashville, Louisville, and Lansing).

  • 74% of participants 18 and above were placed in long-term occupational skills training, post-secondary opportunities, the military, or jobs, exceeding the target of 60%.
  • For youth 17 and below, grantees had a goal of 50% achieving a high school diploma or state-recognized High School Diploma Equivalency. 78% of youth in Right Turn attained a high school degree or equivalent.
  • 68% of youth who returned to school remained in school at 12 month follow-up, where the goal was 60% retention.
  • 64% of youth ages 18 & Above received an industry recognized credential, exceeding the 60% target.
  • Only 11% of program participants recidivated, where the goal was less than 20%.

In 2015, IEL received another DOL-ETA grant to continue the Right Turn program in four communities: Chicago, Illinois; Lansing, Michigan; Reno, Nevada; and Syracuse, New York.