Restoring Opportunities for Youth, from the Neighborhood Up

Engagement in education and employment helps young people start on a path to success. Connections to opportunities that build knowledge and job skills and provide early work experiences are important for all youth and for building a stronger future workforce. Nationwide, nearly 6.5 million youth are not engaged in work or school, according to a new KIDS COUNT report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. These youth face many obstacles and may miss valuable early work experiences, creating long-term consequences for their career prospects and our communities’ well-being.

In DC only 14% of teens (age 16-19) and 57% of young adults (age 20-24) worked last year, a rate that is lower than the national average. Restoring connections to educational and work opportunities for youth is imperative and requires both national and local attention. Solutions must address the assets and opportunities available to youth in their own neighborhoods.

Our 2012 DC KIDS COUNT e-Databook focused on neighborhood assets for children. This new national report is helping us think about how to think about neighborhoods and youth.  And we have a lot of questions, including:

•    What are crucial assets and opportunities for teens and young adults? Are they available where our city’s youth live?

•    Can DC youth find skill-building jobs in their neighborhoods? 

•    What about recreation centers and sports programs that foster social, teamwork and leadership skills?

•    How are our schools doing in providing academic and experiential learning opportunities?

•    What kinds of supports are available for teen parents, who might bring slightly different needs with them back into school or work?

And our last question: What do you think? Let us know what other neighborhood opportunities and assets are needed to help DC youth succeed.

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