Education: Connecting Youth to Opportunity


There are currently over 25,000 disconnected youth in the Greater Washington region, defined as young people between the ages of 16 to 24 who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market.




Disconnected youth represent an enormous potential for our region’s economy. If these young people do not reconnect with school and earn a high school diploma, their earning potential substantially decreases. A high school dropout will earn $40,000 per year at age 59, where an individual at age 24 will earn the same with a bachelor’s degree.To maximize the potential for the prosperity of region’s economy, investing in these young people is a social imperative.  If we continue to ignore disconnected youth, future generations of children and families are destined to live in poverty.

Connecting Youth to Opportunity requires understanding the needs of disconnected youth, defining and investing in best practice approaches to re-connect disconnected youth to education and training opportunities, and supporting communities to work together on a common agenda that effectively removes barriers and connects the many systems that touch the lives of young people.

To this end, The Community Foundation refined its education strategy to focus on ensuring all young people graduate from high school prepared for post-secondary opportunities, whether it is college or a career. The Community Foundation works to achieve its goal by focusing on increasing the number of disconnected youth (ages 16-24) who achieve education and employment outcomes by investing in prevention and intervention strategies. 

The Community Foundation strives to Connect Youth to Opportunity through three strategies:

Strategy I

Inform the creation of multiple education options matched to students’ needs by investing in research and other products that define the needs of “disconnected youth.”

Strategy II

Define and invest in best practice approaches to re-connecting disconnected youth to education and training opportunities that lead to a post-secondary credential and ultimately a career.  

Strategy III  

Support communities to work together on a common agenda that will improve the lives of young people by investing in collective impact.

These prevention and intervention strategies are geared to preventing youth from falling off track (2+ years behind graduation requirements), intervening with at-risk students before they fall off track, reengaging students and accelerating completion of graduation requirements, and targeting drop out populations for re-enrollment toward an educational and career trajectory.