By Linda Dworak, Director, Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative
At a June 9th forum co-hosted by the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative, over 100 workforce development experts, employers and youth leaders came together in an energetic conversation about efforts to strengthen workforce training and support services for the city’s large population of young people who are neither in school nor in a job.
Among the speakers were Marty Molloy, Director of Vocational Programming for the highly regarded YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School, and Ranita Jain, Senior Evaluation Manager at the Washington, D.C.-based Aspen Institute Workforce Strategies Initiative. Baltimore healthcare employers and a youth also took part in the discussion. Attendees were overwhelmingly enthusiastic about building stronger collaboration among the many stakeholders who in some way or another are involved in the lives of Opportunity Youth.
More than one in five young people ages 16 to 24 in Baltimore City are neither working nor enrolled in school – approximately 18,000 young people – one of the highest city rates nationally. Within that population, about 38 percent lack a high school diploma or GED; on average these young people have a 7th grade reading level and 5th grade math ability. Despite these challenges, we choose to refer to these young adults as “opportunity youth,” a recognition that we ought to approach this conversation by recognizing the tremendous assets that each young person can bring to our city and to their own families and communities.
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