Why We Can’t Wait
- Public policy was already failing young people–7.2% of youth in the Twin Cities were disconnected from school/work, with 58% of all Indigenous youth experiencing disconnection. The pandemic has made it worse.
- The mounting stress and economic fallout from COVID-19 and racial turmoil is widening the equity gap for young people and communities of color. It is estimated that one in four young people will be disconnected from school/work due to the pandemic.
- Young people are leading in the face of these entrenched challenges and demanding to be seen and heard.
- It is time for a New Deal for Youth that responds to the historic roots and current scale of the crisis. When the once-in-a-lifetime catastrophe is over, Minnesota’s future will depend on how intentionally we invest in this generation.
Our systems were previously NOT working for Opportunity Youth and the pandemic has exacerbated this – Minnesota is at a fork in the road. We cannot afford to resume business as usual by tinkering with systems and policies that never worked well for youth who most need support.
It is our moral and civic duty (and economically wise) to address the needs of opportunity youth proactively, right now through:
- Economic Justice: Improve pathways to higher-wage employment
- Mental Health: Invest in holistic and community-centered opportunities to rebuild mental health.
- Access to Secondary Education: Create multiple pathways to attaining a secondary credential
- Foster Youth Transition Rights: Implement programming that truly helps young adults in foster care build the financial stability they deserve.
- Young Parent Reforms: Remove barriers for young parents completing college and invest in their economic futures.
- Data Alignment: Create one system where different government agencies can work together to help opportunity youth in targeted ways and truly track results (similar to other states).