Opportunity Youth / Disadvantaged / At-Risk

Youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not engaged in either work or in school at any meaningful level are defined as opportunity youth. This measure yields an opportunity youth group of 6.7 million or 17.3% of the youth population.

One estimate places the personal and public costs of not changing the trajectories of opportunity youth at $6.3 trillion dollars over the lifetimes of all current opportunity youth.

The successful reconnection of these young people is both a local issue and national issue. At the local level, it requires community collaborations that effectively remove barriers, connect the many systems that touch their lives, and build and deepen education and employment pathways.

Opportunity Youth Statistics

  • 200,000 youth under age 18 are sent into the adult criminal justice system every year.
  • On any given day, approximately 60,000 youth are confined in juvenile detention and correctional facilities and hundreds of thousands more are on probation.
  • Two-Thirds of youth in custody are confined or incarcerated for nonviolent offenses
  • 30 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system had learning disabilities; 45 percent had problems paying attention; and 30 percent had experienced physical or sexual abuse.
  • Youths ages 13 to 21, lack access to a high-quality education and other services that could help them rebuild their lives and gain valuable skills.
  • 5.5 million US youth ages 16-24 are not in school or working. Young adults who are not working or in school cost taxpayers $93 Billion Annually

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