Financial empowerment for young people through coordinated educational and workforce pathways.
Ensure youth from low-income communities have supportive and coordinated pathways toward economic well-being through continuing education or connection to employment after high school.
While there is an abundance of youth-focused services with diverse expertise and deep understanding of the needs of youth across our region, there is no clear path for youth from lower-income families that enables longer-term economic well-being. Youth often fall through the cracks as they transition from child and youth programs into adult-focused supports. The pathways that do exist may be offered only in certain schools or communities and may not fully consider the other challenges youth face, such as being involved in the child welfare system. This is holding back young people from reaching their full potential.
Investment of $1,350,000 in 12 partners
“Collaboration between schools/school districts. We all have the same problems, so why not come together to fix them?”
– Community volunteer & parent
“I was not prepared to be an adult. If my own parents are not going to be there for us… No one will be there for us. A lot of youth don’t have anyone there to guide them, they are just winging it. (It’s important for) adults to be role models to help youth become good adults.”
– Community member & youth leader
Many interconnected factors drive intergenerational economic mobility, including educational attainment of a child’s parents, the safety of the community, access to good nutrition, health care and healthy relationships. The opportunity to learn is a key driver in the longer-term success of young people living in households with low incomes. Meeting educational milestones, such as reading by fourth grade, graduating on time and pursuing education after high school, can improve the likelihood of mobility from poverty.[i]
The academic disparities and achievement gaps among young people living with low incomes are often indicative of the longer-term financial challenges they will face as adults. Striking educational inequities exist across the United States for students of color, and those inequities can be exacerbated by special sets of challenges outside of the classroom, such as youth experiencing homelessness or engaged in foster care. While the pandemic has presented new obstacles for all young people pursuing higher education – more than 1 million fewer students enrolled in college in 2021 than before the pandemic – this is especially true for students from lower-income schools.
Systemic challenges with resources to schools and communities directly impact the academic success of young people. With an increasingly digital world, many young people don’t have adequate access to technology and internet access at home. Research by Chetty, Friedman and Rockoff shows that money invested in schools and small student-to-teacher ratios are strongly correlated with economic mobility.[ix] And schools in lower-income areas are often under-resourced due to lower real estate tax incomes, resulting in higher student-to-teacher ratios and limiting additional academic or extracurricular activities. While changing public school funding is a very long-term challenge, we can explore shorter-term solutions to help address gaps by coordinating services and mobilizing advocates and volunteers.
How might we better align, coordinate and sequence community resources to fill gaps within schools and build pathways toward economic mobility for students with lower incomes?
Social capital – a person’s network of trusted and valued relationships – plays an important role in supporting economic mobility. Relationships, especially those with people very different from us, can help provide exposure to new ideas, experiences, people and communities. These can be critical in supporting youth in school and as they explore post-secondary options and begin careers. And relationships with people similar to us, referred to as “bonding ties,” are also important as they help build a sense of security and self-worth.[x]
Surveyed community members and partners often shared a need to build stronger relationships among youth, schools, parents and communities. While they may have similar goals of supporting young people, it can feel as though they are working against each other. Community members shared that young people could feel powerlessness as decisions are typically made for them, not with them. And parents can feel the same – systems making decisions for and about their children without their input. There is a clear opportunity to build stronger relationships and focus on shared values to help improve outcomes for young people.
How might we engage the voices of young people to align around shared values and strengthen relationships that support the educational outcomes and economic mobility of young people with lower incomes?
i Chetty, R., et al. (2017, December 5). Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility. Opportunity Insights. https://opportunityinsights.org/paper/mobilityreportcards/
iii Sedmak, T. (2022, January 13). Fall 2021 Undergraduate Enrollment Declines 465,300 Students Compared to Fall 2020. National Student Clearinghouse. https://www.studentclearinghouse.org/blog/fall-2021-undergraduate-enrol…
iv Kentucky Department of Education. (2022, April 8). 2020-2021 Homeless Student Count. Kentucky Department of Education. https://education.ky.gov/federal/progs/txc/Documents/2020-2021%20Homeless%20Student%20Count%20by%20District%20and%20Grade.pdf
v Ohio Department of Education. (n.d) Reports Portal – 2020-2021 School Year. Ohio Department of Education. Retrieved May 26, 2022, from https://reports.education.ohio.gov/report/report-card-data-state-enrollment-by-student-demographic
vi The Annie E. Casey Foundation. (n.d.). Homeless or housing unstable students. KIDS COUNT Data Center. Retrieved May 26, 2022, from https://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/9353-homeless-or-housing-unstable-students#detailed/2/any/false/574,1729,37,871,870,573,869,36,868,867/any/18472
viii American Community Survey. S1701: POVERTY STATUS IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS; 5-Year Estimates for Cincinnati MSA, OH-KY-IN. Census Bureau Table. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=poverty&g=310XX00US17140&tid=ACSST5Y2020.S1701
American Community Survey. S1501: EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT; 5-Year Estimates for Cincinnati MSA, OH-KY-IN. Census Bureau Table. Retrieved May 26, 2022, from https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=education&tid=ACSST5Y2020.S1501
ix Chetty, Raj, John N. Friedman, and Jonah E. Rockoff. 2014. "Measuring the Impacts of Teachers II: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood." American Economic Review, 104 (9): 2633-79.
x Abbott, M., & Reilly, A. (2019, May). The Role of Social Capital in Supporting Economic Mobility. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Office of Human Services Policy. https://aspe.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/private/aspefiles/261791/socia…