Evaluation of Management Leadership for Tomorrow’s Turn Pro Program


A college education can be a critical step towards attaining economic mobility, in part because it can translate to higher earnings. But there are differences in the benefits that accrue to Black, Latinx and White graduates. Various factors drive racial wage and income gaps, including occupational segregation, biases in who gets called back for job interviews, differences in offered wages for jobs, and historical inequities and discrimination in the labor market, housing, and other sectors. And while many of these drivers are large, structural issues, connecting workers to jobs with wages that match their skills and experience may help start closing the earnings gap.

Career preparation programs, particularly ones that combine work experience, professional coaching, and social capital development efforts (including career network and community building), can help college students secure good jobs that matches their salary expectations and fully compensates them for their skills and experiences. Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), an organization that believes that the thriving of people of color should be the norm and not the exception, has asked MDRC to evaluate Turn Pro, a major expansion of its flagship undergraduate program, Career Prep.

MLT launched Turn Pro as part of this evaluation that seeks to help college students, particularly students of color, immediately enter quality jobs following graduation. Turn Pro aims to advance racial equity by equipping rising juniors and seniors at three partner universities with coaching and networking services that can bridge racial disparities in earnings and help students secure employment that represents an appropriate return on their college degrees.

Notable features of Turn Pro include:

  1. One-on-one coaching to help students plot out a career roadmap, including internships, that shows where they want to go and how to get there.
  2. A personalized playbook to ensure students land quality, career-path jobs and have the tools needed to advance over time.
  3. Professional networking to connect students with peers, alumni, employer partners, and business leaders who can serve as mentors and identify employment opportunities.

Agenda, Scope, and Goals

The Turn Pro evaluation, led by MDRC, consists of two primary components: (1) research that focuses on how the program was implemented overall and at each of the partner universities; and (2) a randomized controlled trial to estimate the effects of MLT’s Turn Pro program on employment-related outcomes.

Design, Sites, and Data Sources

Students that meet the MLT Turn Pro eligibility criteria are randomly assigned to either the program group or a control group. The three universities participating in the Turn Pro evaluation are:

  1. Howard University, Washington, DC
  2. University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
  3. Arizona State University—Tempe, Phoenix, West, and Polytechnic campuses

Data sources include interviews with MLT staff, students, and partners; program observations; MLT program-tracking data; education records; and a series of follow-up surveys.