Opportunity Road

The Promise and Challenge of America's Forgotten Youth

By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

January 1, 2012

Summary

Young people ages 16 to 24 out of work are forgotten by society. Whether they leave high school without a diploma, or graduate high school and attend college, they lack the preparation needed to obtain a decent job in a 21st Century economy. Ignoring them costs billions of dollars every year in lost productivity and social services, and negatively impacts our own futures.

Youth who are out of school and out of work, dubbed “opportunity youth,” hold enormous potential to become key leaders in our society – given proper opportunities and tools. This report shares the voices of these young people who struggle to finish school and enter the workforce.

This report shares the reality and the opportunity of America’s “opportunity youth” through examining the histories of opportunity youth in 23 diverse locations across the United States and explores the opportunities to reconnect them to work and school. The future of our nation depends on how we choose to address this opportunity. 

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

Recognizing the importance of "Opportunity youth"

Despite facing challenging circumstances, the majority of opportunity youth indicate they can achieve their goals, accept responsibility for their futures, and ultimately wish to re-engage with education and/or the workforce.

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations