In the United States, roughly 4.9 million youth ages 16 to 24 are not in school or working. This figure translates into one in seven young Americans. Youth disconnection profoundly impacts individuals and society, resulting in unfulfilled lives and staggering social costs. The challenge of youth disconnection reach even greater proportions across the globe, with one third of the world’s 1.2 billion youth neither employed, nor in education and training. We refer to this group of disconnected youth as “opportunity youth;” a term they choose for themselves to bring focus to their potential.
Recognizing that solutions to global challenges transcend national boundaries, in 2016, the International Youth Foundation (IYF) launched (Re)Connecting Youth: Exchanging Global Lessons. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), this two-year initiative seeks to identify and share innovative global approaches for increasing youth connection with practitioners, policymakers, and funders across the United States. Ultimately, the goal is to foster learning and energize support for holistic solutions aimed at providing millions of youth in the U.S. who are not in work or school with opportunities to lead healthy, productive lives.