The Challenges Facing At-Risk-Youth A recent Annie E. Casey Foundation report estimates that 4.3 million youth in this country have not progressed beyond a high school diploma and are neither employed nor enrolled in postsecondary education. Youth experiencing this disconnection from the economic mainstream make up nearly 15% of all 18-24 year olds, and illustrate the magnitude of a national opportunity divide that is getting worse. Compounding the problem is the fact that most new jobs, and virtually all that offer wages sufficient to support a family, require at least some education and training beyond high school, even at the entry-level (Carnevale and Reich 2000). Even one year of postsecondary education increases lifetime earnings by 5 to 15 percent per year. The result is a dual class economy where the people that stand to benefit the most from higher education and career opportunities find it hardest to do so. Without proper guidance and opportunities, these young adults will continue to face enormous challenges in transitioning from high school to higher education and family-supporting careers.
At the same time, the country’s fastest growing demographic groups (Latinos and African Americans) are receiving comparatively less education. 29% of Latinos and 15% of African Americans drop out of high school. As a result, a growing number of low-income, minority youth leave high school lacking either the credentials and/or the skills to advance toward a college degree-essentially guaranteeing that they will struggle to earn a family-supporting income in today’s economy. Many will enter college only to become discouraged and drop out; others will cycle in and out of job training and adult education programs, never getting beyond low-paying jobs with little prospect of advancement. Without proper guidance and opportunities, these young adults will continue to face enormous challenges in transitioning from high school to achievement in successful careers and higher education.
MEETING THE CHALLENGES Youth Entrepreneurship Training help at-risk-youth meet the challenges by planting the seed of entrepreneurship in their mind. Mr. Jones recognizes that many at-risk youth are from families households that do not have entrepreneurship experiences or training and therefore, entrepreneurship awareness must be offered from sources such as the YEDF after school entrepreneurship training.