For too many young people the transition to adulthood is characterized by isolation, joblessness, and a lack of educational opportunity or connection to caring community. In a far-reaching effort to help disconnected youth, nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies across the U.S. are providing support in the form of shelters, job training, mentorship, college prep, job placement, and mental and reproductive health services. But in order to achieve success it is clear that these efforts require greater alignment and coordination. This special collection gathers the many lessons being learned in the field; lessons about the challenges in meeting the needs of disconnected youth and the promise of both new and more proven approaches.

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Special Collection on Disconnected Youth: Summary Brief

November 1, 2016

A summary brief of findings from a special collection of "grey" literature on the subject of Disconnected Youth. The brief lays out the methodology for the collection effort as well as top level findings related to thematic categories covered by the existing evidence base.

Reengaging Disconnected Youth: Action for Municipal Leaders

September 19, 2016

This action kit highlights steps city officials can take to help young people who are not connected to school, work, or caring adults. The kit recommends steps that cities can take to promote educational achievement, develop stronger workforce connections, support youth in transition from the foster care and juvenile reentrys, and build a citywide system of support.

College Preparation; Community Connectedness; Cross-system Integration; Foster & Adoptive Children; Job Placement; Juvenile Re-entry; Secondary Education; State Government; Student Retention; Transition Planning; Youth Engagement

Powerful Partnerships: A Community Program for Low Income, High School Dropouts and a University

March 8, 2016

The proposed presentation describes the outcomes of a partnership between a youth and community development program and a teacher education program at a regional university in the Midwest. Once a federally funded program for low-income, youth ages 16-24, this agency provides General Equivalency Diploma (GED) preparation, job skills training, and community service opportunities for high school dropouts (Cohen & Piquero, 2008; Kapp, 2009), and faculty and pre-service teachers from a university supported the GED preparation and transition components of the program. Therefore, the proposal for this session most closely aligns with the "HEAD": Academic Achievement & Leadership strand of the conference, as results of the partnership indicate improved academic outcomes for program participants (increases in scores on standardized tests, GED pass rates, community colleges and technical institute enrollment, and full-time employment). In addition, the partnership simultaneously provided pre-service teachers a chance to apply teaching strategies in authentic and diverse learning environments that improved both teaching strategies and cultural responsiveness.

Cultural Competency; Federal Government; Job Training; Philanthropy; Secondary Education; Youth Development

Arts Infusion Initiative, 2010-15: Evaluation Report

March 6, 2016

For youth involved in the criminal justice system, a better future depends on improving their social and emotional learning skills -- skills like conflict resolution, career readiness and preparation for the future. An assessment by the Urban Institute shows how the Arts Infusion Initiative helped achieve just that for young people detained in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC), and for high-risk youth in the Lawndale, Little Village, Back of the Yards and South Shore communities. From 2010 to 2015, this catalytic approach to restoring the peace for Chicago's youth supported 14 nonprofits providing teens with rigorous arts instruction, infused with social and emotional learning goals. Funded by The Chicago Community Trust, the $2.5 million Initiative built collaborations with the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Public Schools, and Northwestern and Loyola Universities. The Urban Institute's mixed-method evaluation (2.9MB), commissioned by the National Guild for Community Arts Education with funding from the Trust, concluded that "the fields of education, juvenile justice and family and youth services can benefit tremendously from the emergent approaches embodied in the Arts Infusion Initiative." Among the successes their research revealed:Participants showed substantial improvements in social and emotional learning skills, as measured by conflict resolution, future orientation, critical response and career readiness. Improvements ranged from 27% in conflict resolution and career readiness, to 29% for critical response and 36% for future orientation.The initiative helped foster collaboration between program directors, public schools, community policing and the detention center. Examples include the Trust and the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy program working together to open a high-tech digital music lab at JTDC. Chicago Public Schools' plan for a new Digital Arts Career Academy for at-risk and court-involved high school youth is a direct result of the positive effects Arts Infusion had on youth, and of the relationship forged between CPS and the Trust.The program exposed at-risk youth to new skills and technologies that opened their minds to a positive future. Arts Infusion grants enabled many participating programs to purchase -- often for the first time -- modern, professional-grade equipment to which many youth had never been exposed. Better Boys Foundation used its funding to purchase enough modern film lab equipment to serve a full 17-student class -- previous classes had only one camera to share among all students.

Community Connectedness; Cross-system Integration; Insufficient Data or Knowledge; Juvenile Re-entry; Philanthropy; System-involved Youth; Youth Development

Transitional Age Youth Strategic Plan

February 16, 2016

This document represents the Strategic Plan for the TAY Authority, covering the period 2010-2015. The TAY Authority serves transition age youth (ages 16-24) in Los Angeles County. Many of the youth we serve are aging out of the foster care system, some have been involved with the juvenile justice system, and all will have faced some sort of challenge in moving toward a productive adulthood. All youth we serve are low or very low- income. The purpose of the TAY authority is to assist youth to transition to adulthood successfully. There are over 1.5 million transition age youth in Los Angeles County. Of these, 11,000 16-22 year olds have active Department of Children & Family Services cases, 5000 are homeless, and over 10,000 of the minors have active probation cases (LA County, 2010). Team TAY believes that providing youth with the tools they need to integrate themselves into society will help them to lead successful and healthy adult lives. By encouraging them to envision a promising future and equipping them with practical life training and support, we will help them to tap their unlimited potential. In order to meet this goal, it is important for us as an organization to strive to better accomplish our mission through managing strategically and in a fair, accessible, transparent manner. So, with the help of our Strategic Management team, we present to you our Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2010 to 2015. The purpose of this paper is to communicate Team TAY's Strategic Plan, which includes a re-clarification of our stakeholders, vision, mission, and values; assessing TAY's internal and external environments; identifying the strategic issues we are facing; formulating and adopting goals to manage these issues; and developing an implementation plan and evaluation process.

Community Connectedness; Foster & Adoptive Children; Homeless Youth; Insufficient Data or Knowledge; Insufficient Funding; Lack of Capacity; Mental Health Services; State Government; System-involved Youth; Transition Planning

Optimizing Talent: The Promise and the Perils of Adapting Sectoral Strategies for Young Workers

February 8, 2016

The new report from JobsFirstNYC and the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program, highlights national examples of effective sectoral employment programs for youth. It lays out strategies for developing and maintaining strong partnerships among industry experts and youth development practitioners, to boost employment rates among young adults and improve business outcomes. Finally, it details lessons learned from JobsFirstNYC's Young Adult Sectoral Employment Project (YASEP), a successful, first-of-its-kind pilot to test whether sector strategies could be specifically effective for young adults who are out of school and unemployed.Drawing on the promising results of several sector-based employment programs for young people throughout the nation, this report explores how:By expanding and deepening access for young people to sectoral employment initiatives, policymakers and funders can help young people find alternative pathways to jobs, job stability, and advancement;Community-based and young-adult-serving organizations can play a critical role in connecting young people to employment;Collaboration across organizations is essential, and financial incentives to support partnerships must be built into future efforts; andSectoral strategies can yield even greater gains when they go beyond strategies focused on job placement to partnering with employers to identify ways to improve workers' conditions while also supporting business success.

College Preparation; Community Connectedness; Cross-system Integration; Federal Government; Insufficient Data or Knowledge; Insufficient Funding; Job Placement; Job Training; Lack of Capacity; Philanthropy; Pooling Funds; Secondary Education; Shelter & Residential Care; State Government; Youth Development

What Works for Disconnected Young People: A Scan of the Evidence

February 1, 2016

The purpose was to conduct a scan of the current state of the evidence regarding what works in helping disconnected young people, defined as the population of young people ages 16 to 24 who are not connected to work or school. To prepare the paper, MDRC conducted a literature review of relevant policies and programs. The literature reviewed included writing on impact, quasiexperimental, and implementation studies. MDRC also conducted reviews of numerous websites to learn about current policy trends and evaluations in process. To supplement what was learned from written materials, MDRC interviewed a number of practitioners in the field, including representatives from foundations, coalitions, and research organizations.

Cross-system Integration; Foster & Adoptive Children; Insufficient Data or Knowledge; Job Placement; Job Training; Lack of Capacity; Mental Health Services; Philanthropy; Post-Program Support; Secondary Education; System-involved Youth; Youth Development

A Blueprint for Youth Justice Reform

January 11, 2016

Each year, hundreds of thousands of vulnerable young people, primarily youth of color, are funneled into the justice system -- a system ill-equipped to meet their needs or foster their development. Study after study has proven that reliance on punishment and incarceration is harmful to young people and is associated with increased rates of reoffending, strained family relationships, lower educational and vocational attainment, and incarceration later in life. This updated report draws upon new research to provide concrete policy recommendations aimed at improving the well-being and life outcomes for young people up to age 25 who are involved in or at risk of entering our nation's juvenile and criminal justice systems.The Blueprint is a call to action to funders, policymakers, community leaders, system stakeholders, advocates, youth and families.

Cross-system Integration; Family Services; Justice System Reform; Juvenile Re-entry; Philanthropy; Racial Equity Lens; System-involved Youth

Two Generational Strategies to Improve Immigrant Family and Child Outcomes

December 1, 2015

Both the Two-Generational Strategies to Improve Immigrant Family and Child Outcomes roundtable and this brief explore policy and practice reforms that can improve opportunities for parents and children in immigrant families. To generate rich thinking about the possibilities, the roundtable brought together experts in the fields of early childhood education, workforce, two-generational policies, and immigrant rights. Participants included federal and state policymakers, community-based practitioners, researchers, advocates, and foundation leaders from all of these fields and from 10 states who came together for two days of discussion about opportunities, challenges, and action steps to better serve immigrant families. Several participants highlighted the extraordinary nature of this opportunity to connect across the different worlds, given how few opportunities they typically have to collaborate and be more intentional in meeting the needs of both parents and children in immigrant families. The goal of the discussion was to share information and perspectives from different areas of expertise across policy and practice and to generate a rich and practical set of action ideas, not necessarily to create consensus among participants.

Cross-system Integration; Immigrants & Migrants; Insufficient Data or Knowledge

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act: A Better Approach to Serving Youth Facing Barriers to Employment

November 16, 2015

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) changes the ways in which states and communities provide employment services to youth through the public workforce system. These older and out-of-school youth will likely face additional barriers to employment and have different service needs when compared with younger and in school youth. To effectively meet the employment needs of out-of-school youth, states and communities will need to change the type, intensity, and scope of the employment services they offer under WIOA.There are lessons that workforce boards and their partners can learn from prior efforts to enhance and expand youth summer jobs programming to better serve at-risk, older, and out-of-school youth as well as community-based programs targeting youth who face serious and significant barriers to employment. This brief draws on some of those lessons to offer practical program design recommendations for enhancing WIOA youth services to better accommodate older and out-of-school youth.

Federal Government; Job Placement; Job Training; Youth Development

Race, Brotherhood, and Educational Engagement in the Urban Context: A Case Study of Structured Peer Bonding Among Boys of Color

November 13, 2015

The Palmview Male Cooperative (PMC) is an out-of-school-time program that involves students of color from varied achievement levels in a 'brotherhood' focused on personal excellence, group accountability, and mutual support. This case study shows how participating in this organization impacts Black and Latina/o student engagement. Overall, the authors argue that framing this organization as a Black and Latina/o 'brotherhood' effectively promotes peer bonding, which builds attachment to the larger school community.

African-Americans; Boys; Cultural Competency; Latin-Americans; Permanence; Racial Equity Lens; Secondary Education; State Government; Student Retention; System-involved Youth; Youth Development; Youth Engagement

Opportunity Youth: Young People Disengaged from School and Work in South King County

November 1, 2015

Young People Disengaged from School and Work in South King County. This report examines the characteristics and experiences of "Opportunity Youth," defined as young people ages 16-24 who are not engaged in work or school. We summarize the experiences of Opportunity Youth with DSHS service histories who attended school in the Road Map region of south King County. We find that many face immediate barriers that may prevent them from engaging in work or school, including parenting responsibilities, incarceration, disabilities, and homelessness. Opportunity Youth have interacted with multiple systems, including criminal justice, behavioral health, child welfare, and public assistance. There are opportunities to better connect these systems to education and the workforce so that at-risk students are supported and those who do become Opportunity Youth are provided pathways to reengagement.

Cross-system Integration; Homeless Youth; Mental Health Services; Secondary Education; Shelter & Residential Care; State Government