Pandemic Wipes Out Progress On Phoenix Area Disconnected Youth

Published: Monday, December 28, 2020 - 8:27am
Updated: Monday, December 28, 2020 - 8:34am

During the pandemic, the number of young people not in school or working has increased significantly across the Valley. The pandemic could wipe out all the progress made over the past five years.

Sometimes called disconnected youth, they’re also referred to as opportunity youth. They’re 16- to 24-year-olds who are not working or attending school.

Opportunities for Youth is a coalition of governments, schools, nonprofits and businesses focused on creating educational and career pathways. Five years ago, the Valley group reported an opportunity youth rate of almost 19%. By 2019, it had dropped to 12.3%. But now, the rate is estimated to be 25.6%. That means one in four 16- to 24-year-olds is not in school or working.

The Phoenix City Council recently approved up to $300,000 over three years for Opportunities for Youth/Arizona State University Center for Human Capital and Youth Development “to provide services to reengage disconnected youth with basic needs such as food, housing, and medical/behavioral health services” to help them transition to educational and employment opportunities.

According to its website, Opportunities for Youth had a goal by 2020 to achieve an 11% opportunity youth rate in Maricopa County and by 2030 to achieve a 7% opportunity youth rate.

Opportunities for Youth, led by ASU’s Center for Human Capital and Youth Development, identifies as the only collaborative network of service providers, K-12 and higher education professionals, government, philanthropic funders and businesses focused on reducing the opportunity youth rate in Maricopa County.

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