The TaxWatch Research Blog

The TaxWatch Research Blog is a forum where our research staff can address topics and issues in a short format. Keep an eye on this space during Legislative Session for frequent posts making sense of the activity at the Capitol. 

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Teen Trendsetters: Making a Difference for Florida's Youth

Teen TrendsettersTM of Florida was initiated by the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy in 2002 in response to legislation mandating that every child in the third grade must show minimal reading proficiency for grade promotion. The program pairs 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade students that are, on average, a half year behind grade level in reading skills with teenage mentors between the 6th and 12th grades, and has grown tremendously since inception, serving 1,750 mentors and 1,740 mentees during the 2015-2016 program year (PY) (September 2015 – April 2016).

Florida TaxWatch conducted a fiscal and economic analysis (including the return-on-investment for state taxpayers) of the Teen TrendsettersTM (TT) program. In doing so, TaxWatch also evaluated the program design, comparing TT program specifics to evidence-based best practices for mentoring programs. Carefully scrutinized program evaluation data indicate that the TT program has a positive impact on the academic, behavioral, and social skills of both the mentors and the mentees, demonstrating the following results for PY2015-2016:

  • 92 percent of senior mentors report graduating, with 79 percent indicating that they plan to attend college;
  • 97 percent of mentees report that their mentor helped them become a better reader;
  • 43 percent of mentees improved their reading skills to grade-level or above by the end of the seven month program;
  • 92 percent of parents reported that their child’s attendance was average or better; and
  • 92 percent of parents reported that their child’s school behavior was average or better.

Florida TaxWatch’s fiscal and economic impact analysis finds that participation in the TT program results in:

  • for senior mentors:
    • $28,330,848 in collective additional lifetime income;
    • $1,054,680 in avoided welfare, prison, and health benefits paid for by the taxpayers;
  • for mentees who achieve at least grade-level reading by the end of the program:
    • $53,804,660 in collective additional lifetime income; and
    • $7,382,760 in avoided welfare, prison, and health benefits paid for by the taxpayers.

In 2015-2016, the TT program received $300,000 in state funding and $776,910 in private funding. For each dollar invested (public and private) into the TT program in FY2015-16, a fiscal return on investment of $7.83 in avoided social program costs for the taxpayers is realized.

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