The Time is Now: Opportunity Youth Recovery Plan

Minnesota’s Opportunity Youth Need and Deserve a New Deal!

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.

Our Solutions

It is our moral and civic duty (and economically wise) to address the needs of opportunity youth proactively, right now through: 

  1. Economic Justice: Improve pathways to higher-wage employment 
  2. Mental Health: Invest in holistic and community-centered opportunities to rebuild mental health.
  3. Access to Secondary Education: Create multiple pathways to attaining a secondary credential
  4. Foster Youth Transition Rights: Implement programming that truly helps young adults in foster care build the financial stability they deserve.
  5. Young Parent Reforms: Remove barriers for young parents completing college and invest in their economic futures.
  6. 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).

Additional Policy Details About Our Solutions

  • Publically fund youth to obtain the driver’s license (training, behind the wheel, and an option to have teachers sign off on the license, affordable insurance pool), a critical employment credential in the new workforce.
  • Invest and use evidence-based career/workforce education, eg. Jobs For America’s Graduates
  • Expand earn and learn opportunities in industries that lead to high road jobs

  • Expand mandatory financial support and offer voluntary case management support for extended foster care to age 24
  • Fund required case management services for youth using FYI housing vouchers

  • Allow public economic benefits up to age 24 without penalty of working  to incentivize young parents to complete a secondary and postsecondary credential.
  • Create a six month MFIP verification window to enable young parents to get needed support while gathering all needed documents.

  • Extend E-12 funding to age 24 for three years to allow young people to earn a diploma
  • Fund case management to search for youth over the age of 17 who have left school to support a return to school to earn a secondary credential
  • Enable high schoolers behind in credit to access post-secondary developmental credits at colleges and universities as credit recovery and to accelerate the path to a high school diploma and successfully transition to college

  • Allow public economic benefits up to age 24 without penalty of working  to incentivize young parents to complete a secondary and postsecondary credential.
  • Create a six month MFIP verification window to enable young parents to get needed support while gathering all needed documents.

  • Ensure SLEDS can track educational and employment outcomes for youth who are system involved so we can better tailor programs and systems to increase positive life outcomes.

For more information on the Twin Cities Opportunity Youth Network, contact Kristy Snyder at Kristy.Snyder@ppl-inc.org

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