Opportunity Youth (Read More)

Having a high school diploma as well as an additional investment in human capital, such as college and job training, is essential for youths to make the transition to a productive life. Without those things, we know they are more likely to be un- or under-employed and suffer the other negative economic and personal consequences that occur because they dropped out of school and failed to transition successfully to adulthood. And, without intervention, those negative costs will continue throughout their lives .

“’Opportunity Youth’ are burdened, but so is society and so are taxpayers.”

At age 16, the annual taxpayer burden for each of the so-called “Opportunity Youth” is $13,900. The social burden is $37,450. In their lifetimes, they will inflict a tax burden of $258,240 and social burden of $755,900—each. Considered over the full lifetime of a cohort of 6.7 million opportunity youth who are aged 16-24, the aggregate taxpayer burden amounts to $1.56 trillion in present value terms. The aggregate social burden is $4.75 trillion. These costs ‘roll over’ each year because each year brings a new cohort of opportunity youth.”

Yes, these statistics are depressing. But at its heart, Dropping Back In delivers a hopeful message. The documentaries feature stories about educational outreach and job-training programs that have strong track records in helping young people get back on track to resuming their educations and acquiring the skills they need to become an asset to society and not a burden. Some of these are innovative partnerships between local businesses and job-training programs in which everyone benefits. Many of these programs can be replicated in other communities.

Another reason to hope and an opportunity to give to dropouts who are ready to drop back in is Fast Forward, a multi-platform learning program that includes an online study course for the new high school equivalency tests. A conservative estimate says that 80 percent of American dropouts can’t or won’t go to an Adult Education Center. Fast Forward provides an opportunity for self-paced, online learning. This type of self-directed, technology-based learning is an effective way to reach “Opportunity Youth” who, according to the White House report, In 2012, the average GED® test-taker was in his or her mid-20s and had attended school up to the 10th grade.

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