Reclaiming Our Nation’s Disconnected Youth
On Tuesday, September 25th, United Way of the National Capital Area (United Way NCA) President and CEO Bill Hanbury was a featured panelist* at a congressional briefing: “Reclaiming Our Nation’s Disconnected Youth.” The briefing was sponsored by United Way Worldwide in partnership with the Campaign for Youth, First Focus, Forum for Youth Investment and the National Collaboration for Youth. The session was hosted by Senator Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Dale Kildee, both from Michigan. More than 150 congressional staffers attended to find out more about this national crisis.
Mr. Hanbury was invited to participate because of the recent United Way NCA efforts to highlight the issue of disconnected youth in the capital region. The organization has convened seven community conversations on disconnected youth in the last year, working with United Way Worldwide and the White House Office of Community Solutions.
Through our recent strategic planning process, United Way NCA has identified workforce readiness as a signature initiative for the organization, focusing on disconnected youth — along with veterans — as a priority population. The term “disconnected youth” refers to young people between the ages of 16 and 24 that are unattached to school or employment. Each disconnected young person carries an opportunity cost of $755,900 over the course of his or her lifetime due to lost tax revenues and burdens on social service programming.
Working with other local and national organizations, our goal is to promote collective impact through coordination and alignment of services. By creating multiple pathways for young people to reengage with educational and vocational training opportunities, we hope to equip them with the hard competencies and soft skills necessary to obtain gainful employment and earn a family-sustaining income.
*Joining Bill on the panel were: Jeff Fleischer, CEO, Youth Advocate Programs,; Dr. Daniel King, Superintendent, Texas School District; Ernest Dorsey, Assistant Director, Youth Services for the Mayor's Office of Employment Development, Baltimore City; Michele Corey, Vice President for Programs, Michigan's Children; and several young people forming a cadre of formerly disconnected youth.