As many of you know, America’s Promise Alliance made an exciting announcement at their summit this past week: for the first time ever, the national high school graduation rate is 80 percent.
But there is much more work to be done to help more young Americans cross the finish line and pursue meaningful educational and career pathways after high school – particularly students struggling with their classes and low-income youth who are at higher risk for dropping out.
Reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) is one step Congress can take right now to keep us on track.
The $3 billion law already serves teens and young adults who are currently not connected to school or work. They include foster children, runaways, homeless, pregnant or parenting teens and post-adjudicated youth. But WIA needs to also serve students who are still in high school but are at risk for dropping out or have recently dropped out.
Below are some of our proposals to do just that.
1. Early interventions and warning systems that prevent those students from joining the ranks of 5.8 million disconnected youth who are struggling to secure a foothold in today’s economy.
2. Expand WIA’s definition of “eligible youth” to include at-risk students so that more can qualify for services.
3. Support “Pay-For-Performance” Strategies so that effective youth programs with proven results can amplify and expand their work.
Until now, attempts to reauthorize this important law have failed. Opportunity Nation and our partners advocate the swift passage of an updated WIA and believe that there is now enough momentum to pass a bipartisan bill in 2014.
Our message to Congress is clear: Our youth cannot afford any more delays. Reauthorize WIA now!