Reconnecting Youth Campaign: Unleashing Limitless Potential

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The Reconnecting Youth Campaign: Unleashing Limitless Potential calls on Congress to invest in America’s future by funding education, training, national service and employment opportunities for one million 16- to 24-year-olds who are not in school or work.

Across the United States, over 4.6 million 16- to 24-year-olds have been separated from pathways to productive adulthood.1 They are known as “Opportunity Youth,” both because they are seeking opportunities to provide for themselves and their families, and because they represent untapped potential for employers, communities and our economy.

kim pham"What people need to know about Opportunity Youth is that they’re strong, they’re brilliant, they persevere. Find a way to engage these young people in your spaces because they’re ready and willing [and] they know the difference it makes when they get support.”

- Kimberly Pham, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Opportunity Youth United National Council of Young Leaders

Reconnecting Opportunity Youth Strengthens Communities
Decades of research show that investment in Opportunity Youth will improve the futures of young people, families and communities by reducing persistent poverty; increasing civic engagement; and improving health, education and career outcomes. It’s the right thing to do.

Reconnecting Opportunity Youth is Good Fiscal Policy
Every $1 we invest in helping a young person reconnect yields a more than $5 return on investment, saving taxpayers $2 directly and generating another $3.50 in net tax revenue.

Reconnecting Opportunity Youth is Good for Business
Businesses that invest in hiring and training Opportunity Youth 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.2

Solutions are within Reach

All young people deserve the opportunity to access a good education and pathways to productive adulthood, despite race, gender, where they live or where they start in life. Opportunity Youth hold tremendous potential if we make the choice to invest in them.

Federally funded programs that help Opportunity Youth to gain the skills, tools and networks to reach their full potential consistently demonstrate positive impact. Yet these highly effective programs lack the resources to meet the demand – every day, they are forced to turn young people away.

We call on Congress to increase appropriations from $2.5 billion to $6.5 billion to support existing federally funded programs.

Increasing annual investments will allow effective programs to immediately scale up and provide 1 million Opportunity Youth a viable pathway toward productive adulthood.

Financial Impact
A $4 billion investment will save taxpayers $65 billion in reduced long-term expenditures and will generate $105 billion in additional tax revenue.



"[Our Opportunity Youth program] helps us attract talent, helps motivate teams, helps communities, and helps create a diverse workforce.

It’s multi-dimensional, hitting a lot of different things we want to do. It’s a win-win-win.”

- John Galante, Former CEO, JP Morgan Chase

Program Success and Impact

These federally funded programs currently serving Opportunity Youth offer a diverse and comprehensive range of approaches, locations, skill-building and career pathways. They are rigorously evaluated to measure their viability and success in achieving programmatic goals regarding improved health, academic and career outcomes goals.

Here are the highly effective programs that, with increased investment, can immediately expand to serve 1 million young people.

This U.S. Department of Education program supports adult learners (ages 16 and up) prepare for High School Equivalancy exams, offering a critical second chance for many American high school dropouts.

Youth respond to environmental crises and disasters, rebuilding communities while earning a living allowance and an education award for college.

AmeriCorps State/National funding provides support to a wide range of service programs that strengthen communities and build leaders through direct community and national service.

This program increases college attendance rates among foster youth by providing tuition support for former foster youth enrolling in post-secondary educational and training programs.

This full-time, residential education and vocational training program is administered by the U.S Department of Labor and implemented in over 100 locations by for-profit, public, and nonprofit entities. Youth earn a high school diploma or GED, learn career skills, and connect to job opportunities.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, this program helps adolescents improve their education and employment success.

Youth REO projects focus on pre- and post-release services, including case management, educational and occupational skills training, tutoring, credit retrieval, job placement and other supportive services.

Youth are engaged in service projects coupled with job training, mentoring and academic programming.

Youth programs are designed to help youth with education, and/or occupational skills and training.

Administered by the U.S.Department of Labor (DOL), this community-based alternative education program provides hands-on job training, educational and community service opportunities.



1 See for the number of Opportunity Youth and related costs in each specific district. Also, see Measure of America's data reports on opportunity youth. 

2 See,,,


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