The Challenges Facing Disconnected Youth

More than 1 in 10 young Marylanders are both out-of-school and out-of-work.  These youth, between the ages of 16 and 24, are considered “disconnected”—lacking the social, academic, and employment connections that lay the foundation for a successful future.  Some are high school dropouts.  Others may be unsuccessful in making workforce connections due to family obligations, lack of marketable employment skills, substance abuse, homelessness, incarceration, disability, or difficulty aging out of the foster care system.

On June 8, 2009, JOTF held a forum to explore these issues.  The forum was hosted by the Baltimore Community Foundation, and drew a crowd of nearly 50 engaged service providers, educators, advocates, funders and government leaders.  Andrea Payne provided an overview of JOTF’s latest Issue Brief A Young Workforce At Risk: Reconnecting Out-of-School and Out-of-Work Youth in Maryland.  Payne gave details on the extent of youth disengagement in the state and discussed JOTF’s recommendations for re-connecting young Marylanders to school and work.

The panel also included two practitioners from the field, who spoke about their programs targeting disconnected youth in Baltimore.  Ernest Dorsey, Director of the Baltimore Youth Opportunity (YO!) program, discussed YO’s efforts to help City youth move into education and career preparation.  Stephanie Region, Director of Living Classrooms Foundation’s Fresh Start Program, gave an overview of their work providing job training and academic development to out-of-school youth, largely referred through the Department of Juvenile Services.

For more information about the forum, or to obtain the materials that were distributed, please contact Andrea Payne at (410) 234-8303.

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