Houston's Opportunity: Reconnecting Disengaged Youth and Young Adults to Strengthen Houston's Economy
Though the U.S. economy is gradually showing signs of rebounding, a group of young people known as Opportunity Youth and Young Adults (OYYA) continues to lag behind. Defined as young people ages 16 to 24 who neither work nor attend school, the OYYA population is growing both nationally and in the Houston area. This study aims to identify characteristics of the group and highlight the most successful practices to address its needs.
Nearly one in seven young adults in the Houston area is neither working nor in school. Despite the country’s gradual economic recovery following the recent recession, these youth ranging in age from 16 to 24 years, represent an often over-looked segment of society. Nationally, such disconnected youth – referred to here at Opportunity Youth and Young Adults – are estimated to number 6.7 million. Here in Houston, there are an estimated 111,000 disengaged youth and young adults. Many have dropped out of school. Still more finished high school but had few options awaiting them. Barriers like criminal records and a lack of skills, experience or even transportation often work against their best intentions. The cost of inaction is an estimated $30 billion in the Houston area. But there are organizations working to reengage them and help them meet their potential.