Innovative Programs

UTEC Social Enterprise Employment for Proven-Risk Young Adults

Mission/Goal of Program

UTEC’s mission and promise is to ignite and nurture the ambition of our most disengaged young people to trade violence and poverty for social and economic success. UTEC measures the social and economic success of its mission through Reduced Recidivism, Increased Employability, and Increased Educational Attainment. Founded in 1999 in response to gang violence in Lowell, MA. They serve older youth (ages 17-25) from Lowell, Lawrence, and Haverhill, MA who have histories of incarceration or serious gang involvement. UTEC is nationally recognized as a model agency serving justice-involved young adults.

UTEC offers paid work experience in social enterprises as part of a holistic model for impact young adults. When impact young adults succeed, our communities see the greatest positive impact on public safety, public health, and economic development. The long-term recidivism rate for UTEC young adults averages less than 20%, compared with a statewide average above 50%.

Programs/Services Offered

The program includes a variety of programs:

  • Street outreach and correctional facility in-reach; gang peacemaking
  • Paid work experience in UTEC social enterprises: Mattress Recycling, Food Services, and Woodworking
  • Earn certifications including OSHA and ServSafe option
  • Intensive wraparound supports throughout the self-paced program, with average enrollment of 18-24 months
  • Integrated education for HiSET/GED attainment and dual-enrollment options
  • 2Gen programming with co-located early education center and family engagement activities
  • Social justice and civic engagement embedded throughout the model
  • Transition to external employment and 2 years of follow-up services

In FY18, UTEC served 148 young adults in their intensive enrollment program, and nearly 600 total including Streetworker outreach and engagement. Of enrolled young adults, 94% had a criminal record; 66% lacked a high school credential; and 52% were expecting/parenting. Despite these barriers, young adults achieved:

  • 97% had no new convictions or technical violations;
  • 88% had no new arrests or technical violations;
  • 63% received an industry-recognized certification.

Outcomes for young adults included (FY17):

  • 99% of UTEC enrolled young people had no new convictions;
  • 90% of UTEC enrolled young people had no new arrests;
  • 32% of young people who attended HiSET classes earned their credential this year.

Of participants who completed programming 2 years ago:

  • 94% had no new arrests since leaving UTEC;
  • 78% are currently employed and/or enrolled in post-secondary education.
Start Date
Friday, January 1, 1999
Type of Agency/Organization
Community-Based Organization
Geographic Reach
Clientele/Population Served
Young adults ages 17-25 with histories of serious criminal and/or gang involvement
Education and Training
Supportive Services
Special Populations
Incarcerated and Individuals with a Criminal Record
Youth in Transition