Preparing struggling youth to lead productive lives

May 23, 2012 5:43 AM

New Wave staff

As part of its recently launched initiative called Reconnecting Opportunity Youth, the Scott S. Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane has released a reference guide to inform the New Orleans community about the pressing issue of disconnected youth.

Cowen Institute Report

“Reconnecting Opportunity Youth” is a new reference guide from the Cowen Institute that provides data about troubled youth.

Sometimes referred to as “opportunity youth” because of their potential value to communities and economies, disconnected youth are young adults aged 16-24 who are neither in school nor working, says Debra Vaughan, director of research with the Cowen Institute.

“Nationwide, 6.7 million (or 17 percent) of young people aged 16-24 are estimated to be disconnected, which costs taxpayers approximately $93 billion annually,” Vaughan says. “In the New Orleans metro area, between 12,195 and 15,781 low-income youth aged 16-24 are considered opportunity youth, creating a taxpayer cost of between $170 million and $220 million annually.

“Unemployment of young people is at a historic high, and communities across the country are in search of solutions that will truly make an impact on these numbers.”

Amy Barad, manager of special projects for the institute, says the reference guide examines the characteristics of opportunity youth in New Orleans as well as the impact on the greater community and the significant opportunity to inspire and initiate systemic change.

Though the causes are numerous and complex, disconnection often begins within the education system, according to the Cowen Institute. Too many students leave high school before they have obtained the skills necessary to succeed in post-secondary education or to connect to the workforce.

Another publication, the Cowen Institute’s Education Pathways paper, examines the role of K-12 and post-secondary education nationally in engaging struggling youth and preparing them to lead productive lives.


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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000