Last month, as a part of OVAE’s work with the Interagency Forum on Disconnected Youth, I had the opportunity to attend a national Reengagement Plus convening in Los Angeles, California. I return from that event renewed and inspired by the work going on across the country to reengage youth back into education and employment. In recent years, efforts to prevent students from dropping out have significantly improved graduation rates both nationally and locally. Unfortunately, there are still approximately 1.8 million young adults ages 16-21 that are not enrolled in school or have not finished their high school education. Research shows that many out-of-school youth want to return to school, but are uncertain how to do so and are fearful they will not succeed once they get there. Helping these young people find alternative pathways to graduation and meaningful employment opportunities is a critical challenge facing municipal leaders today.
Late last week, Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier issued a “Dear Colleague letter” to Financial Aid Administrators. This letter clarifies that extended foster care payments made by a state directly to foster youth are to be excluded when determining a student’s student aid eligibility and do not need to be reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). “Our intent is to reduce barriers in the financial aid process for students in foster care to ensure they are able to maximize their student aid benefits”, said Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier. “We know these students face many challenges as they transition into adulthood—and the financial aid process should not be one of them.”
Many of us working with young people have been there at one time or another: the frustrating search of multiple web sites to find information related to youth programming. What grants are available? What does the latest research tell us? What do evidence based programs look like? Where are the resources and programs in my community? You can now find the answers to these and other questions on the newly redesigned web site FindYouthInfo.gov.
Last week OVAE hosted several visitors from the 12 for Life program to learn more about their innovative education, training and employment program aimed at vulnerable youth in Carrollton, GA and Florence, AL. The program, which was developed by Southwire in 2007 to address the interrelated dropout and skills crises among youth in Georgia, targets many of the most vulnerable youth who are at the greatest risk of not completing high school.
Education can play a critical role in individuals’ lives to set them on a track toward economic stability. This theme was discussed in multiple panel and symposium sessions at the American Educational Research Association this past week in San Francisco. Gathered here are some reflections from researchers working at the intersection of youth and adult education programming and poverty reduction.
The President’s 2014 Budget Proposal includes several Pay for Success pilots. The Office of Management and Budget at the White House says the following about this new way of financing: “Pay for Success is an innovative way of partnering with philanthropic and private sector investors to create incentives for service providers to deliver better outcomes at lower cost—producing the highest return on taxpayer investments. The concept is simple: pay providers after they have demonstrated success, not based on the promise of success, as is done now.”
In case you missed it, the President’s FY14 Budget was released last week. This past Tuesday, a special edition of OVAE Connection analyzed OVAE programs in the budget. Check out the detailed analysis here.
Worldwide, there are nearly 75 million young people, ages 15 to 24, who are not in school and unemployed. This situation is being described as a global crisis which requires immediate, targeted and renewed action to tackle youth education and employment issues. The U.S. is no exception. Amidst high youth unemployment rates and a growing skills gap in our nation as the baby boom generation retires, our nation is also faced with a widening opportunity gap for vulnerable young people. In the U.S. today there are nearly 6.7 million “disconnected” young people ages 14 to 24 that are homeless, in foster care, involved in the justice system, or are neither in school or employed. According to the White House Council for Community Solutions, this roughly equates to 1 in 6 young people in this age range.
Focusing on the education and employment needs of “disconnected” youth populations is critical to meeting the President’s goal of the United States, once again, producing the world’s highest proportion of college graduates, and the world’s most competitive workforce, by the year 2020.