NLC Reengagement Network Releases New Tools for Cities

With the release of two new tools for cities this week, the National League of Cities Reengagement Network is adding to the universe of resources for implementing or adopting comprehensive strategies to reconnect opportunity youth to jobs, education and civic life.

The annual Reengagement Census, updated with information from 20 sites for the 2016-17 school year, provides the best sketch available of the national reengagement landscape.

In addition, an easy-to-use form provides the means to calculate return on investment – namely, how expenditures on reengagement produce returns in the form of increased earnings, decreased spending on public safety, improved health outcomes, additional school district funding and savings to taxpayers.

Both tools will help municipal leaders and their partners make the case to other state and local policymakers for additional infrastructure in the form of reengagement centers and alternative schools, in ways that advance overall city priorities including youth workforce development and preparing youth for the future of work.

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Return on Reengagement Investment Tool

The Return on Investment Tool helps city and state policymakers, and educators quantify the impact of reengagement investments. Combining calculations by prominent labor economists of savings and foregone costs, with census data from reengagement centers, leads to estimates of short- and long-term returns.

For example, each high school graduate who returns to school through reengagement efforts saves local taxpayers an average of $65,000, even before calculating the taxes those graduates pay when working. Users may modify the tool to use their own budget, student graduation, and funding data.

Reengagement Network 2016-17 Census

For the fifth consecutive year, the Reengagement Network has produced a census of known reengagement initiatives. The number of reporting sites has expanded from 13 sites in 2013, to 20 sites in 2017, and continues to grow.

Top-line findings from the 2016-2017 Census Report include:

  • Reengagement Network programs reached out to more than 40,000 disengaged students;
  • 38,737 students completed the intake process at the center or program;
  • Reengagement programs placed at least 16,814 disengaged students into education programs;
  • 11,737 students brought back to education options via systematic reengagement efforts graduated, obtained a high school diploma or equivalency diploma during the year; and
  • Program data show a 69.8 percent aggregate “stick rate,” defined as still enrolled or have completed a credential by July 2017.

Systematic reengagement efforts contributing to the census fulfill several key functions to get young people back to school and help those youth move forward. In particular, reengagement center staff reach out and connect with this population of disconnected youth; assess students’ educational and psychosocial needs; and provide referrals to best-fit educational options as well as wraparound services.

Each reengagement center and program in the network customizes an operational model that best meets the needs of the community it serves.

Reengagement programs serve young people ages 16 to 24 who have left school without a secondary credential. These youth often face barriers to success, including the need to support their families through part-time and full-time work. Out-of-school youth often have a disability, and face transportation challenges, juvenile justice involvement, child care needs and behavioral health issues.

The Reengagement page of the NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) houses the 2016-2017 Census Report alongside reports from earlier years. The National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) provides hub staffing for the Network as well as resources thanks to support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation

About the Author:
Christie Joesbury served the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families as a Heinz College-Carnegie Mellon University Reengagement Fellow for 2017-18, and recently obtained a Master of Science Degree in Public Policy and Management.