Campaign Sign-On Letter: Congress, Invest in Opportunity Youth

As Congress considers appropriations for fiscal year 2023, the Reconnecting Youth Campaign is urging Congress to provide robust funding for programs that serve Opportunity Youth — at least a 20 percent overall increase in funding over fiscal year 2022.

The campaign will formally share this letter with the Appropriations Committee at the end of April.

To sign onto the below letter, fill out this form.

Dear Chair Leahy, Vice Chair Shelby, Chair DeLauro, and Ranking Member Granger:

Across the country, youth and young adults disconnected from education and employment are in search of opportunities to lift themselves out of poverty and into career pathways. Young people ages 16 to 24 who are neither in school nor work are known as Opportunity Youth (OY), because they are seeking opportunities for themselves and because they represent an untapped potential to their communities and to our nation’s economy. In every Congressional district in the nation, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the numbers of young people who are disconnected from school and the workforce. A 2022 report from Measure of America estimates that there are now approximately 4.9 million Opportunity Youth in the United States. That is one in eight youth and young adults between ages 16 and 24.

Opportunity Youth are eager to work and take responsibility for their own future. The good news is that community-based organizations around the country help Opportunity Youth reconnect with school, access training, internalize the ethic of service and responsibility, and get jobs. These service providers ensure access to education, employability skills development, essential supports, training, community service, job and college placement, and follow-up once employed. Their approaches adapt depending on the young people they serve, and the needs of their community. The bad news: These programs are only able to serve about 300,000 young people each year, less than 8 percent of the need.

Decades of research shows that Opportunity Youth are a great investment for our country. Reconnecting young people to education and employment reduces poverty, increases civic engagement, and improves health outcomes. Employers that invest in hiring and training OY report that they outperform other entry-level employees, including lower interview-to-hire ratios, higher retention rates, higher job performance scores, and faster promotion rates. Further, the inclusion of Opportunity Youth helps companies increase their innovation and improve bottom lines to address complex challenges by ensuring a range of talent, ideas, and experiences.

We urge you to provide robust funding for programs that serve Opportunity Youth – at least a 20 percent overall increase in funding over fiscal year 2022 – as you consider appropriations for fiscal year 2023.
These programs include WIOA Youth Activities, YouthBuild, and Reentry Employment Opportunities, administered by the Department of Labor; National Guard Youth ChalleNGe administered by the Department of Defense; Adult Basic and Literacy Education State Grants administered by the Department of Education; and targeted funding for Opportunity Youth through AmeriCorps State/National and AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Major increases in these federally-funded programs will strengthen the reach and impact of valuable organizations working within local communities to support Opportunity Youth and improve outcomes. It will be a step towards the scale our country needs.

We appreciate your consideration of our request. Thank you for your leadership and attention to these important matters.

Organizations

Boston Community Action Team

New Power Project

Education Reform Advocates, LLC

OIC of America

Institute for Educational Leadership

Breaktime United, INC.

Youth Jobs Connect

National Youth Employment Coalition

Maryland Out of School Time Network

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces

YouthBuild USA

Maryland Out of School Time Network

Healing Ninjas, Inc.

Arts for Healing and Justice Network

National NeighborWorks Association

Partners In Development Foundation

States for Service Coalition

Youth Villages

Wyoming Children’s Law Center, Inc.

Youth First Initiative

MS Delta Voter Engagement Project

Third Sector New England/DBA Future Chefs

Purpose and Destiny Family School Community Resource Network

Nancy Martin Consulting

MENTOR Virginia

Youth Jobs Connect

Service Year Alliance

The Corps Network

First Focus on Children

National Coalition for the Homeless

Rural Youth Catalyst Project

Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc.

YouthBuild NYC Collaborative

Coalition for Juvenile Justice

OYU Reentry Action Committee

Bay Area Community Resources

CHILDREN AT RISK

National Association of Counsel for Children

MyPath

Public Advocacy for Kids (PAK)

Human Resources Agency of New Britain

Alliance for Education Solutions, Inc.

RESULTS

New Ways To Work, Inc

Aspen Institute: Forum For Community Solutions

Reentry Action Committee

National Youth Employment CoalitionNational Network for Youth

JFF

National Guard Youth Foundation

Children’s Home & Aid

Mind-Refresher

California Opportunity Youth Network

Opportunity Youth United

Opportunity Youth United- Montgomery CAT

Georgia Reconnecting Youth INC

Phipps Neighborhoods

Ones Up

Individuals

Esperanzita Castillo

Karla Vargas

Quincy Powe

Shaquana Boykin

Kendan Elliott

Kim Tortolani

Sheila Avila

ericka page

Endey Lonh

David Abromowitz

Veronica Simmons

Thaddeus Ferber

Timeka Braithwaite

Michael Dean

Mike Parker

Fatimah Asad

Samantha Isales

Alex Powers

Evelyn Bagley

April Tate

Jimena Chavez

Allie Farrell

Glenn Eagleson

Rakiya Witwer

Sam Goodman

Olivia Reposa

Miriam Baker

Ryleigh Vaughan

Jenna Iacobucci

Van Nguyen

Deshawn Childress

Kiana Johnson

Jean H Leventhal

Mark Comesañas

Caitlin Johnson

Amanda K Wise

Amy Jine

Rashaun Bennett

Kaya Ceci

Kristy Snyder

Mitali Chakraborty

Michael Galvan

Laura Skinner

Mary Ann (Mimi) Haley

Tom Gilchrist

Thomas Showalter

Curtis Joe

Jeffrey D Thomas

Daniel Rosebud

C. Pluff

Amira Iwuala

Delbria Walton

Rachel McBride

Sarah Wilkinson

Matt Atwell

Valeria Evans

Sarah Eicher

Alyssa Lucas

Kimberly Pham

Tamar Miller

nancy Schieffelin

Fran Yuan

Nathan Nolan

Florence Lefebvre

Duncan Kirkwood

Laurence Melnick

Paige Kennedy

Natalie Stoller

Michael S Appel

Anne B Mahon

James Edward Hoyt

David Calvert

Brenda Guerrero

Justin Truong

Dillon Bernard

Esperanzita Castillo

Rachel Alinsky

Mickeeya Harrison

Crystal Russell

Sade Bradford-Bond

Julian Wicks

judith A ackerman

Laura Trinh

Chuying Huang

Alexis Vasquez

Denise Romero

Caryn Graves

Cesar Ramon Garcia

Elizabeth Malcom

Leigh-Anna Nielsen

Germain Castellanos

Shanice Turner

Autumn Nolan

Evangeline G. Alpogianis

Gerod Blue

Dorothy Stoneman

Dahsuri Togi

Karen Higgins

Devon Patterson

Bobbi Taylor

Yuridiana Renteria

Conner Thomas

Miguel A. Blancarte, Jr.

Makayla McDonald

Rhea Amber Carter

Yante

Lashon Amado