Helping to reconnect youth back to education and employment and get them on a path to a successful transition to adulthood that includes economic self-sufficiency, skills that support independent living and improved health, mental health and well-being can be challenging. Youth development stakeholders and beneficiaries (i.e., the youth themselves) describe significant challenges that hinder meaningful improvements in education, employment, health and well-being outcomes.
How can schools and youth development organizations better align to increase their communities' understanding of the importance of focusing on the whole learner? Broaden access to high-quality learning opportunities that support comprehensive development? Strengthen adult social and emotional learning practice?
Being disconnected, out of school and unemployed as a young person is potentially traumatic. These experiences can have lasting impacts on income, employability, health and well-being. The effects grow the longer a young person is disconnected. And the effects linger over time.
Much of the research on the fading "American Dream"-the expectation that children will grow up to earn more than their parents-has focused on the country's urban areas. However, as the nation's cultural, economic, and political divides have deepened, there has been accelerating interest in understanding how the 60 million people who live in rural America are confronting the challenges that come with climbing the income ladder.