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According to a new report by Brookings, of the 86,000 16- to 24-year-olds living in the District, 32 percent live far below the poverty threshold and lack a bachelor’s degree. Eight out of ten of these poor youths are black.
Of that 32 percent—-which numbers about 28,000 people—-40 percent aren’t in school or working. And 5,000 of them have given up looking for work.
These are a lot of numbers that add up to one thing, write the authors: “Young people so disconnected from work and education face limited prospects.” Their top recommendation is a lofty one:
The District should challenge itself to do better by setting a bold and ambitious goal: increasing the proportion of youth who earn a post-secondary credential and obtain full-time work by the age of 24 to 90 percent over ten years.
To support this goal, the city needs to commit to making serious program and policy changes. The Mayor, City Council and the city’s partners should adopt a framework of career and educational pathways to guide the city’s programs and policies related to youth and young adults.
The recommendation for more work experience and credentialing is tied to the fact that for many, college isn’t the end-all, be-all of youth education, which Lydia DePillis also points out.