Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Place Matters: Why Policy and Program Strategies for Young Adults Must Include Community-Based Investments

This month, Measure of America, a research project of the Social Science Research Council, issued a report entitled, High School Graduation in New York City: Is Neighborhood Still Destiny?, which documents disparities in high school graduation rates throughout New York City neighborhoods. While the City’s Department of Education regularly reports on disparities in graduation rates by race, ethnicity, gender, language proficiency, and disability status, it does not report on disparities by neighborhood, creating a crucial data gap in understanding exactly who graduates and who doesn’t.

Measure of America’s report reveals that despite policy efforts to make public education more equitable, such as the implementation of the City’s universal high school choice program in 2004, disparities in graduation rate by neighborhood are even greater than disparities by race, ethnicity, or gender.  Students who live in wealthier neighborhoods throughout New York City are far more likely to graduate from high school on time than students who live in neighborhoods marked by low median household incomes, high child poverty rates, and high rates of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation. The City’s decision to move away from a concept of having students attend traditional neighborhood schools has not helped low-income students achieve parity with their wealthy counterparts. As the report states, “The data show that far too many young people from low-income black and Latino neighborhoods in the Bronx and central Brooklyn are winding up in high schools with low graduation rates…even if the school they now attend is farther from home.”

In JobsFirstNYC’s policy paper, Unleashing the Economic Power of the 35%, we measured the number of out-of-school and out-of-work (OSOW) 18-24 year olds in New York City by community district, highlighting the 18 communities with the highest rates of OSOW youth. We found that much like high school graduation rates, rates of OSOW young adults are not spread equally throughout the city. It is not surprising that 14 of the 18 communities we identified with the highest rates of OSOW young adults were listed in Measure of America’s report as having high school graduation rates below 70% (the city’s current average), while wealthier communities have low OSOW rates and high school graduation rates as high as 94%.


The lack of a high school diploma is a significant barrier to connecting to employment and the labor market. The fact that many OSOW young adults are concentrated in specific communities, the same communities with low levels of educational attainment and high levels of poverty, speaks to structural issues throughout New York City’s neighborhoods that require community-based solutions. At JobsFirstNYC, through our place-based work such as the Bronx Opportunity Network, the Lower East Side Employment Network, and the emerging Staten Island Young Adult Workforce Partnership, we are working to address the crisis of out-of-school, out-of-work young adults by partnering with organizations located in areas with high levels of OSOW youth to create neighborhood-based solutions for getting young people into good jobs through education and training. Addressing disparities for young adults throughout New York City requires investing in the communities where they live and grow. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

The White House Announces $100 Million in Competitive Grants for Sector Partnerships

Late last month, the Obama Administration announced that it will launch a grant competition through the Department of Labor for regional sector partnerships among community colleges, public workforce programs, employers, and other training providers to provide tuition-free training for in-demand jobs. The goals of the grant initiative are to:

  • Increase opportunities for underemployed and low-wage workers
  • Expand employer engagement; and
  • Strengthen education and training performance.

We applaud the President's commitment to investing in sector partnerships as community-based solutions to our nation's unemployment crisis. Click here for full details on the president's announcement, and click here to access a free download of the latest publication from JobsFirstNYC, which explores the promises of sector partnerships for younger workers. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

JobsFirstNYC Testifies at New York City Council Executive Budget Hearing – Youth Services

New York City Council Executive Budget Hearing – Youth Services – May 17, 2016

Chairman Eugene and other distinguished Council Members of the Committees on Youth, Finance, and Immigration, my name is Chantella Mitchell, Policy and Programs Associate at JobsFirstNYC, a policy to practice intermediary focused on the issues of young adults, ages 18-24, who are out of school and out of work. Last year, in our editorial, Opportunity Youth Missing from New York City's 2016 Fiscal Year Executive Budget, we called attention to Mayor de Blasio’s lack of investments for out-of-school, out-of-work young adults. Unfortunately, while the Mayor has proposed several new major initiatives this year, he has again neglected to announce any new investments specifically directed toward decreasing the number of young adults who are disconnected from school and work.
As reported in our policy paper, Unleashing the Economic Power of the 35 Percent, there are 172,000 18-to 24-year-olds in New York City who are neither working nor enrolled in school, and another, 133,000 who are underemployed in low-wage jobs. In his Fiscal Year 2017 Preliminary Budget Address earlier this year, Mayor de Blasio celebrated the fact that the city has seen a growth of 220,000 new jobs in the past two years, the highest two-year gain ever. However, only about 19% of New York City teens are employed – the fifth highest teen unemployment rate of any major United States metropolitan area. Where in the Administration’s strategy for unprecedented economic progress is there an intentional plan to help out-of-school, out-of-work young New Yorkers reap the benefits of these significant financial opportunities?
As is, the Mayor’s budget, not only leaves out any significant new expenditures to serve out-of-school, out-of-work young adults, but it also neglects to budget for the restoration of critical existing funds that have the potential to benefit this population such as, the $4.1 million needed for Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) to serve the same number of youth as last year while adjusting for the minimum wage increase; the $12 million in Council funds needed for a year-round youth employment program; and the $2.1 million needed for the NYC YouthBuild Project Initiative, which serves young adults who have dropped out of high school.
We are calling on the administration to invest in a comprehensive plan to reduce the number of young adults who are out of work and out of school. We applaud the Council’s recommendations that the administration increase opportunities for this population by expanding programs like Work Learn Grow to out-of-school youth, as well as the Young Women’s Initiative that has an intentional plan to serve out of work, out of school young women. However, there needs to be larger investment in alternative employment pathways specifically for this population such as sectoral programs, apprenticeships, and place-based neighborhood initiatives--that include employers, colleges and community-based organizations. We are also recommending exploration and development of a public sector employment pathways initiatives, such as those underway in Minnesota and New Mexico, and an expansion of service model programs, like Year of Service, to include targeted numbers for OSOW young adults

While the de Blasio administration continues to position itself as a champion for economic opportunity for all, the Mayor’s budget does little to meet the great need of more than 172,000 young New Yorkers – a significant portion of the city’s millenials who now make up the largest share of the American workforce. JobsFirstNYC urges the administration to invest in the future economic success of New York City by investing in the city’s future workforce. Thank you.

Chantella Mitchell, MSW
Policy & Programs Associate, JobsFirstNYC

(646) 738-5676