New Research Report on Black and African American Youth in Montgomery County

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A new research report finds that there is a need for improvement in social and academic support to better connect black and African American youth in education and workforce opportunities.

The report is called “Connecting Youth to Opportunity: How Black and African American Youth Perspectives Can Inform a Blueprint for Improving Opportunity in Montgomery County, Maryland.” It was conceived and written by The Community Foundation, Montgomery College, and BETAH Associates, Inc., and researched by BETAH Associates, Inc.

The study provides findings from the perspectives of high school students, high school graduates, and high school dropouts. The survey asked Black and African American youth a series of questions regarding their family environment, social status, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, school performance, and employment history.

Researchers determined that “disconnected” youth were those who reported less support from parents and teachers were less likely to finish high school, and more likely to get lower grades, more suspensions, and get involved with law enforcement.

According to the study, opportunities for meaningful work are harshly limited for black youth. The study found that only 31% of youth who dropped out of school were working and nearly half (48%) of youth who dropped out reported their economic condition as “bad or very bad.”

“In this report, these young people are telling us what they need. And we must listen. Being out of work and school in the late teens and early twenties creates a cycle of poverty that has a devastating impact on individuals, families, and communities…now and in the future,” said Anna Hargrave, Executive Director of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region in Montgomery County.

The study concludes with follow-up strategies to reconnect youth to opportunities to succeed in education and employment. The recommendations are listed below:

1. Montgomery County Public Schools should work to change policies, practices, and resource distribution to lower the dropout rate and close the achievement gap for black and African American students.

2. Montgomery County should design services that reconnect “disconnected” youth to education and the workforce.

3. The black and African American community and local law enforcement must find ways to reduce disproportionate minority contact with the justice system.

4. Community organizations and philanthropists should use the information in the report to motivate a coordinated countywide campaign to reconnect disconnected youth.

To read and download the full report, visit:

http://www.thecommunityfoundation.org/CYTO