Young adulthood, between the ages of 16 to 24, is a period of transition. Most enter this stage fully dependent on the individuals and systems around them for food, shelter, guidance, and emotional support. Most exit with the expectation that they are economically self-sufficient. While this stage can be full of hope and opportunity, for some it is fraught with anxiety about disappearing support systems. Of the nearly 40 million Americans between the ages of 16 to 24 in the U.S., approximately five million are neither employed nor in school. This disconnection is not only difficult for the youth themselves, it is also costly to society in the long run: Young people who do not connect to the workforce early on tend to remain more vulnerable and reliant on government programs on an ongoing basis.
But donors have a tremendous opportunity here to intervene. The odds may be stacked against them, but when given the opportunity and support, many of these disconnected young adults find their way forward. In this report, we profile five organizations that have shown notable achievement in reconnecting youth. We selected these specific organizations because of their geographic range (urban, suburban, rural), variety of populations, clear philanthropic on-ramps, and evidence of effectiveness. In championing the work of these and similar organizations, donors can help young people at critical stages of their lives and assist them in reaching their untapped potential.
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