Disconnected youth: Ensuring youth are ready to thrive in the workforce is essential for our region’s future.
Insights & Analyses
- The proportion of youth disconnected from school and work is declining in the Bay Area and statewide, although disparities exist by race/ethnicity, gender, and nativity/ancestry.
- Black youth are roughly twice as likely to be disconnected from school and work compared with youth overall.
- Although young men are more likely than young women to be disconnected from school and work for most racial/ethnic groups, the trend is reversed for Latinx and Asian or Pacific Islander youth.
- Solano County has the largest share of disconnected youth (7 percent) and San Francisco has the smallest share (3 percent).
Drivers of Inequity
California school districts receive most of their funding based on attendance. So, districts with a high number of low-income students, where absentee rates tend to be higher, receive less funding compared with affluent districts where absentee rates are lower. (These demographic differences across districts stem from historical policies such as racial housing covenants and redlining.) Districts with a high share of low-income students, and therefore lower funding may have difficulties engaging students and retaining teachers. Law enforcement is also more likely to be present in communities of color and to stop or arrest youth at a higher rate compared with White communities, which can negatively affect the well-being and future outcomes of youth of color.
Strengthen places: Policies to help all youth succeed
- Create cradle-to-career pipelines for vulnerable youth and invest in early childhood education.
- Develop comprehensive youth employment systems across the education, juvenile justice, and child welfare systems.
- Reform harsh, “zero tolerance” school discipline policies to keep youth in school and on track to graduate.
- Connect youth to career paths through career academies, apprenticeships, workforce training programs, and internships.
- Connect youth to cultural, academic, and case management supports to reconnect them with school and work.
Strategy in Action
The Opportunity Youth Partnership in Santa Clara County leverages collective impact to put disconnected youth on the path to self-sufficiency. More than 15,000 young people (ages 16–24) in Santa Clara County are neither working nor in school. The Opportunity Youth Partnership (OYP) — a collective impact initiative that brings together community-based organizations, public agencies, school districts, community colleges, funders, employers, and civic organizations — works to advance a Comprehensive Second Chance System to move these youth to “durable self-sufficiency, which is achieved through connections to education and employment.” With a priority focus on youth who have experienced homelessness, the foster system, and/or the justice system, OYP aims to create education-to-career pathways and cut the number of disconnected youth in Santa Clara County in half by 2025. Since 2014, the partnership has tracked results for 3,000 youth in the county. Learn more.
- Organizations: California Opportunity Youth Network; SkysTheLimit; Linked Learning
- Reports: 2021 Santa Clara County Children’s Data Book; Youth Outcomes Report: Year Three of the Santa Clara County Opportunity Youth Partnership; Building An Inclusive Economy; Boys and Men of Color Data Profile 2015; A Portrait of California: 2014-2015; Race for Results; Halve the Gap by 2030
- Data: DiversityDataKids.org; Kids Count
- Toolkits: Youth Disconnection in America Interactive Tool; Fix School Discipline