The article presents an evaluative study of the effects that the youth programme Principi Attivi (PA), implemented in the Apulian Region of Italy, produced in 2010. Specifically, the study focused on 885 project leaders who applied to PA that year, with the aim of evaluating the programme’s impact four years after the completion of the funded projects. A counterfactual research method has been adopted to provide evidence of the net effect on employment, personal and professional empowerment, innovation, planning, and networking skills. Our regression discontinuity design included a comparison group consisting of those who submitted a project but were not granted funding. The study considered only the marginal participants that were positioned around the cut-off point dividing funded and non-funded projects. The results of the study suggest that PA worked mainly as an educational experience on both the personal and professional levels. Even if the programme did not create long-term employment, there was an increase in a range of employability resources for those who participated.
Keywords: Youth Initiative, Innovation, Employability, Cultural Capital, Counterfactual Evaluation, Regression Discontinuity Design