Educational attainment and formative employment experiences are crucial to lifelong stability and success. Yet, thousands of youth are struggling each and every day to complete their education and enter the labor market, too often spiraling into complete disconnection from both opportunities.
The ramifications of youth disconnection on the health and well-being of any community are profound. We know that disconnected youth face a future that is filled with risk and missed opportunity. The responsibility to address this issue and successfully reconnect all young people is a shared one.
However, we will never succeed if we operate in a vacuum and fail to acknowledge that the factors leading into disconnection and the strategies to facilitate reconnection are as varied and nuanced as the youth themselves. This makes youth input and participation in the development of solutions critical. Yet, nationally and locally, there has been a noticeable lack of attention paid to the voices of the young people we are aiming to support.
To amend this, DCAYA, in partnership with Raise DC, and with the support of The Community Foundation for The National Capital Region and the United Way of the National Capital Area, executed an extensive survey and qualitative study of currently disconnected and recently reconnected young people here in the District. Using a combination of tactics, we gained valuable insight into how youth experience and overcome barriers to school and work.
In soliciting young peoples' opinions we made a number of useful, although sometimes discouraging, discoveries. We discovered that often times, seemingly small issues like not having money for the bus are powerful barriers to young peoples' success. We confirmed what youth service professionals have known for years, that there are hundreds of potential factors that impact a young person's transition into adulthood. Lastly, we verified that despite not always having a comprehensive understanding of the complex systems that affect them and their peers, young people crave opportunities to better their futures and want to succeed. They just need help navigating the complex path to adulthood.
DCAYA and its partners will release the findings from this study on October 22nd. We invite you to investigate what young people had to say about their disconnection from school and work. We urge you to get involved in solving this citywide issue. The responsibility to facilitate reconnection is a shared one and the opportunity to change the future for thousands of young people is now.
We look forward to sharing the full findings with you on October 22nd and hope you join us in the movement to connect all youth to opportunity.
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