Opportunity Youth

Opportunity Youth, sometimes referred to as disconnected youth, are between the ages of 16 and 24 and are neither in school nor working. Many of these youth have disabilities, are homeless, or involved with the juvenile justice or child welfare systems. The effects of this disconnection follow individuals for the rest of their lives, resulting in lower incomes, higher unemployment rates, and negative physical and mental health outcomes. Young adults who are not in school or working represent untapped potential for our nation. They cost taxpayers $93 billion annually and $1.6 trillion over their lifetimes in lost revenues and increased social services.

Who are Opportunity Youth?

  • 4.9 million youth ages 16-24 were not in school or working in 2015
  • 41% live in a poor household compared to 27% of youth who are in school or working
  • 15% have a disability compared to 5% of youth who are in school or working
  • 7.2% of Asian American youth
  • 10% of White youth
  • 14.3% of Latino youth
  • 18.9% of Black youth
  • 25.4% of Native American youth

Opportunity Youth are heavily represented in rural areas and small towns. By definition, Opportunity Youth are not in school or working, and only 4% achieve a bachelor’s degree by age 24 compared to 8% of youth who are in school or working.

Opportunity Youth experience poverty at higher rates, 44% vs. 16.8% (2014) than youth who are in school or working.


results in Opportunity Youth.
  • AYPF Youth Summit, 1st Session

    https://youtu.be/M0vFHaPwkkgOn August 3, the American Youth Policy Forum began hosting our Youth Summit, which was the first in a series…

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    AYPF Youth Summit

    The AYPF Youth Summit, an engaging, interactive, and fun three-part virtual event that will amplify youth voices and celebrate…

  • July 8, 2022

    Make No Choice Without Youth Voice

    Kameryn discusses youth engagement--her experience, research on the topic, and AYPF's strategy.

  • Credible Messengers Small Group Discussion

    An informal event led and facilitated by AYPF’s Youth Policy Consultants and focused on the topic of credible messengers.