CF Insights asks a very simple but important question: "What if each community foundation could know what all community foundations collectively know?" This collection features research produced and funded by community foundations, and other resources relevant to the field. Contact us at and visit us at

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Connecting Youth to Opportunity: Better Understanding the Needs of Disconnected Young People in Washington, DC

October 3, 2013

Educational attainment defines workforce success, and a robust workforce drives economic stability and growth. Therefore, everyone has a stake in developing systems that promote strong education outcomes and successful transitions to the labor market: businesses and employers that aim to simultaneously build up the next generation of consumers and strengthen the future workforce; elected officials who wish to sustain the city's current prosperity and growth; parents and concerned community members who want a vibrant, healthy community; and youth themselves, who by and large want to lead stable, productive lives.Momentum has been building -- now is the time for the District of Columbia to develop such a system. Recent studies suggest thousands of youth between the ages of 16 -- 24 are disconnected, which is commonly understood to mean young people who are neither in school nor working. High dropout and unemployment rates and low post-secondary education attainment rates among District youth have led to a series of thoughtful and focused examinations of how the District of Columbia can reconnect youth to opportunity. Raise DC, the District's public/private partnership dedicated to establishing cradle to career alignment, is leading the charge with its focus on youth reconnection. This -- combined with the engagement of the foundation sector on the needs of disconnected youth and the recognition of other government and community working groups on this emerging and high-need sector of the youth population -- has opened the window of opportunity to combat youth disconnection through cohesive, evidence-driven, and cross-sector systems change.