UTEC Social Enterprise Employment for Proven-Risk Young Adults

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%.

Record Type: 
Innovative Programs
Type of Agency/Organization: 
Community-Based Organization
Program Location: 
Lowell, Massachusetts
Clientele/Population Served: 
Young adults ages 17-25 with histories of serious criminal and/or gang involvement
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.
Topics/Subtopics: 
  • Employment
  • Education and Training
  • Supportive Services
  • Special Populations
    • Incarcerated and Individuals with a Criminal Record
    • Youth in Transition