Eight Southern Cities to Create and Expand Reengagement Programs for Opportunity Youth

February 28, 2022 - (3 min read)

The National League of Cities (NLC) has chosen eight cities to participate in an 18-month technical assistance cohort to expand local efforts to reconnect youth and young adults with education and work.  The Reengaging Opportunity Youth in the South in Education & Employment (ROYS) cohort includes Corpus Christi, TX; El Paso, TX; Houston, TX; Jackson, MS; Little Rock, AR; Louisville, KY; Rock Hill, SC; and St. Petersburg, FL.

Opportunity Youth are young people between the ages of 16-24 years old who are neither working nor in school. After seeing a decline in the reported number of opportunity youth, the pandemic doubled that number to an estimated nine million. Without support to get back on track, Opportunity Youth have less opportunity for educational advancement, economic mobility, and quality of life. Cities increasingly see the benefits of investing in efforts to find these “missing” youth and create viable opportunities for achieving educational credentials and employment.

“In the face of these large numbers, strategically building and deploying local capacity to reengage Opportunity Youth in education and work is more important than ever,” said Andrew Moore, Director of Youth and Young Adult Connections at NLC. “The National League of Cities is proud to work with these eight cities to build capacity to support the Opportunity Youth in their communities.”

“The Reengaging Opportunity Youth initiative is an important strategy for helping young people stay connected and on track toward their educational and career goals,” said Allison Gerber, who oversees Casey’s employment, education and training strategies. “We are excited that partners like the National League of Cities are thinking creatively about how to support youth with the resources they need to succeed inside and outside of the classroom.”

“The City of Corpus Christi places a high value on quality education for all residents as a basis for a socially and economically thriving community. The Reengaging Opportunity Youth in Education & Employment proposal takes to scale many of our current initiatives, and we welcome the opportunity to help guide out-of-school and out-of-work young adults back onto pathways that lead to academic achievement, professional skill development, credentials, and employment” adds Mayor Paulette Guajardo of the City of Corpus Christi.

“Fostering success among our young residents is a key component of building an inclusive community where intentional equity is applied in every aspect of policymaking. I am excited to support the National League of Cities on its Reengaging Opportunity Youth in Education and Employment initiative — work that aligns with my Youth Opportunity agenda and that could lay the foundation for changing young adults’ lives, while also ensuring jobs are filled, tax revenue increases and our city flourishes as a city of opportunity for all.” – Kenneth T. Welch, Mayor, City of St. Petersburg

This initiative will focus on providing peer learning opportunities and best practices to cities to expand or prepare to open a reengagement center or program for their Opportunity Youth population. Cities will engage in regular meetings, peer learning opportunities and will receive specialized support from NLC staff and national content experts.

For more information about the ROYS initiative, please contact Antonia Rangel-Caril at Rangel-Caril@nlc.org or 202-626-3032.