Maricopa County Reduces Rate Of Opportunity Youth

Published: Monday, June 11, 2018 - 1:47pm
Updated: Monday, June 11, 2018 - 4:31pm
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Jackie Hai/KJZZ
Damonte Johnson (left) and Jim Hoyt in KJZZ's studios.

Damonte Johnson spent much of his childhood with more than 10 family members in a three-bedroom house. He said his aunt was in and out of jail and a cousin started a gang on his street. He was, for a time, homeless, but eventually ended up living with his godmother.

He bounced around a bit, and his family eventually became the subject of national news. His brother was the main eyewitness in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.

Johnson later had his own run in with law enforcement, and was charged on three counts, including assaulting a police officer. He said he was trying to help his brothers.

That incident eventually caused him to lose a job he’d gotten in Phoenix. But as luck would have it, that same day, he got a text from Opportunities for Youth, about a job fair he’d signed up for. It went better than he could have expected.

Johnson is now the Youth Outreach Coordinator for Opportunities for Youth. Opportunity Youth are defined as 16 to 24-year-olds who are neither in school nor working. Just a few years ago, about one in five Maricopa County residents in that age range were considered Opportunity Youth — that’s now down to one in seven.

Johnson and Jim Hoyt, executive director of Opportunities for Youth, recently stopped by on The Show.

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