Spotlight Exclusives

The Year of Disconnected Youth?

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Few topics related to poverty and opportunity have received more bipartisan attention in the last year than so-called “disconnected youth” youth who are cut off from education and work, and who face endemic challenges to long-term economic security. Recently, this cohort has been the subject of several conferences, reports and dozens of articles.

Spotlight helped drive the conversation last year through a series of commentaries on the problem of summer jobs for youth. In July and August of 2011, three contributors weighed in on the dramatic decline of teen summer job rates, the impact of unemployment on low-income and minority teens, and how investments in teen jobs can help the nation as a whole.

Recently, Spotlight launched a new Exclusive Commentary series on disconnected youth. So far, this collection includes four expert voices Peter Mitchell of the Clapham Group, Linda Harris of CLASP, Harry J. Holzer of Georgetown University and John Bridgeland of Civic Enterprises on efforts to confront the problem and create a positive path forward. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


Other sites are hosting conversations about disconnected youth as well, such as SparkAction۪s blog series, which highlights the unique voices and views of the youth themselves.


The White House Council for Community Solutions released a report this summer, entitled Community Solutions for Opportunity Youth. The report outlines several recommendations to help disconnected youth, such as “driving development of more successful community collaboratives to harness the potential of these young people; creating shared national responsibility and accountability; engaging youth as leaders in the solution; and creating more robust on-ramps to employment.”

Disconnected youth were also the primary focus of last week۪s second annual Opportunity Nation national summit, which featured elected officials, policy experts and others. At the summit, Opportunity Nation released a shared policy plan focused on helping youth connect to education and employment and a new Opportunity Index with a snapshot of economic opportunity and mobility across the country. Two complementary reports were also released at the Summit: Enterprising Pathways: Toward a National Plan of Action for Career and Technical Education and National Roadmap for Opportunity Youth.


Several recommendations emerging from these recent efforts build on successful community-based approaches, described in a 2006 CLASP report. While U.S. Department of Labor funding through the Youth Opportunity Grant (YOG) program stopped in 2005, many urban and rural communities continue to implement cross-system solutions for disconnected youth through an organization called the Communities Collaborating to Reconnect Youth Network.  


OOTS is always eager to lift up topics of bipartisan concern and will continue to follow this issue closely.

Posted by Sarah

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