Youth Cash Transfer Program

Determining the effect of direct cash transfer programs for youth

The Rooted School Youth Cash Transfer Study is a program that provides $50 in cash directly to participating Rooted School students every week for one year. The program is a first-of-its-kind partnership done in partnership with the Center for Guaranteed Income Research at the University of Pennsylvania. The goal of this study, initially funded by New Orleans-based education non-profit 4.0 Schools, is to determine the effectiveness of direct cash transfer programs on youth experiencing financial hardship. 

About the Youth Cash Transfer Study

The Youth Cash Transfer Study seeks to determine proof of concept and best practices for implementing direct cash transfer programs with youth. While there is a large body of evidence showing the power of cash with adults, very little work focuses on young people. 

  • All Rooted seniors were given the opportunity to apply to be a part of the study. Twenty students applied, and all were accepted into the study. Ten were randomly selected to receive cash transfers; the other ten make up the control group.
  • Students who were selected to receive the cash receive $50/week for 52 weeks via an app on their phones. Students began receiving cash transfers in October 2020.
  • From October 2020 to September 2021, all twenty students will participate in short, text message surveys twice a month; students in the cash transfer group will also participate in periodic longer surveys and one-on-one interviews.
  • We are preparing to grow the program to 230 students during a randomized control trial (RCT) study over the 2022–2023 school year.

Are Direct Cash Transfer Programs Effective?

Direct cash transfer programs have arguably the strongest existing evidence base among anti-poverty tools, and the positive outcomes of cash transfers have been repeatedly demonstrated in studies around the world. 

We are inspired by the work of organizations like GiveDirectly and the evidence supporting universal basic income and cash transfers in combating poverty. 

  • Cash transfers have well-documented positive effects on recipients worldwide, with dozens of high-quality evaluations of cash transfer programs spanning Africa, Asia, and Latin America. 
  • Studies consistently show that child tax credits and child allowances in other wealthy countries contribute to lower child poverty than in the US
  • Studies have shown that cash transfer programs lead to positive long-term outcomes as recipients often save or invest a portion of their cash.
  • Despite stereotypes about how people experiencing poverty choose to spend their money, studies consistently show that recipients of cash transfers spend their money on things that positively impact their own lives.

Our Early Findings

In partnership with the University of Pennsylvania and 4.0 Schools, we published the Penultimate Rooted Schools Report. Stay tuned for details on our next study. 


Press mentions

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The charter school’s 2021 graduates chose to work at top tech companies including Entergy, Ochsner and Lucid and attend universities such as Tulane, Villanova and Case Western Reserve  Rooted School gives students an active role in their future careers by teaching skills that are in-demand for today’s most successful...
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It started out as just another Tuesday for students at the Rooted School, an Uptown New Orleans charter high school focused on teaching the latest skills needed in tech industry jobs.
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One of the city’s newest school leaders, Jonathan Johnson, is focused on a different number: 228. It’s emblazoned on banners hung on the walls of Rooted School. It’s on Johnson’s mind when he walks the halls, or travels out of town to recruit donors, college partners, or companies where he...
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There’s only one rookie school on the way-too-short list of New Orleans public schools that beat the state school performance average in 2018. It's called Rooted, the first from-scratch, open-enrollment high school to open here in a decade.
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That’s when Mitchell met Jonathan Johnson, a teacher turned entrepreneur. He had been prototyping his idea for a new charter school, called Rooted, through an after-school program, and was looking for a chance to test the model during the school day, in the form of a “school within a...
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Jonathan Johnson began teaching social studies to eighth-graders at one of the city's charter schools in 2010. After a rough start, Johnson says he became known as the "warrior teacher" because his classroom was all about "fighting the war on low expectations for African-American youth."
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