August 01, 2019
In the United States, one in nine young people is neither in school nor working. That’s 4.5 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 24. This population, known as Opportunity Youth (OY), is disconnected in a way that leads to lower lifetime earnings and a higher likelihood of social isolation. To solve this national challenge, we have to start locally. OY are, by definition, disconnected from major public and private institutions, and often turn to smaller community providers for help. What can communities and employers do to engage this group of young people and unlock their potential? To answer that question, we spoke with young people, community organizations, schools, and employers. Our two recent reports, Career Pathways for Opportunity Youth and Building Local: Lessons from Massachusetts Communities on Reengaging Opportunity Youth, take a look at what’s currently being done to support OY and what can be done better.