Philanthropic Effort Advances Youth Jobs
At a convening in December held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Patrick McCarthy, President and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, asked a national audience of policymakers to reflect on their first job - their first pay check -- and to remember the confidence and pride those early work experiences instilled; the lessons learned on surviving in the real world; and the job and social skills, values, and expectations that were imparted. He asserted that these are values that last for a lifetime and are passed on to our own children. He reminded the audience that today, with youth employment rates at the lowest level in 60 years, so many youth, particularly youth of color, don't have access to jobs and early work experience during the important period from age 18 to 24 - exactly when they should be building the foundation for lifelong economic success.
Today, there are 6.5 million youth who are neither in school nor working and who face the prospect of chronic unemployment or underemployment throughout their adult life. With the December launch of its 2013 KIDS COUNT Report, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has joined several other major foundations in drawing attention to this youth employment challenge. The Foundation has released the report "Youth and Work: Restoring Teen and Young Adult Connections to Opportunity," which documents the dimensions of the challenge, provides state-by-state data on youth unemployment, and calls for the development of a national youth employment strategy that expands jobs and work opportunities and creates multiple pathways to reconnect these youth to employment. The Foundation has also released the video Opening Doors: Connecting America's Youth to Opportunity to feature young people sharing their own stories. The Annie E. Casey Foundation is adding their considerable influence to the growing number of foundations and national efforts to expand opportunity for our young people. Other important initiatives include the Robert Wood Johnson Forward Promise Initiative, OSF Campaign for Black Male Achievement, Campaign for Youth, Opportunity Nation, and the White House Council for Community Solutions.
The Casey report advances several recommendations that reinforce those from these and other groups involved in the national movement to support community-based strategies that align public, private, philanthropic, and community resources to implement comprehensive programming to address the education and labor market needs of youth outside the labor market mainstream. Hopefully, this heightened attention and advocacy will generate the public support needed to sufficiently fund strategies for addressing youth disconnection at scale.