The President has defined our work in the State of the Union and elsewhere as restoring the promise of opportunity for all. For youth and many adults, this involves creating a clearer path to postsecondary education and careers, and thus building ladders of opportunity to the middle class.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 5 million 14-to-24- year olds in the U.S. are not on a clear path to postsecondary education or training and a rewarding career. They are neither working nor in school and, in many cases, face the additional challenges of being homeless, in foster care, or involved in the justice system. Often disconnected from their families and valuable social networks, these young people struggle to make successful transitions to adulthood and to reach the educational and employment milestones critical to escaping a lifetime of poverty.
Extensive consultation by the Administration with diverse stakeholders, including through the White House Council on Community Solutions (PDF, 64 pages); Executive Order 13563 Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review; the President’s Memorandum on Administrative Flexibility, Lower Costs, and Better Results for State, Local, and Tribal Governments; and most recently the RFI on Strategies for Improving Outcomes for Disconnected Youth have yielded valuable insights from practitioners, youth advocates, and others on the front lines of service delivery. These stakeholders point to significant challenges that hinder meaningful improvements in education, employment, health and well-being. Such challenges include limited evidence and knowledge of what works, poor coordination and alignment across the systems that serve youth, policies that make it hard to target the neediest youth and overcome gaps in services, fragmented data systems that inhibit the flow of information to improve results, and administrative requirements that impede holistic approaches to serving this population, among other factors. Addressing many of these challenges often requires services and expertise from multiple systems, including, for example, schools, health and mental health, workforce development, job training, housing, social services, criminal justice and other systems. Vulnerable youth may achieve better outcomes when programs are coordinated and resources are well-targeted.
Other innovations in policy and program delivery.
In addition to Performance Partnership Pilots, the Administration is pursuing a number of other initiatives that also advance innovation in policy and program delivery to address critical social challenges. As a next step in the place-based strategy begun under Promise Neighborhoods and Choice Neighborhoods, the Administration will partner with 20 Promise Zone communities to ensure that Federal programs and resources are focused intensely on hard-hit communities. In addition, the President’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative focuses on improving opportunities and outcomes for all young men and boys of color, and helping the most disadvantaged stay in school and stay out of criminal justice systems. The President’s Job-Driven Training initiative is driving improvements in workforce development and job training programs, emphasizing effective approaches that lead to education and credentials needed for in-demand jobs, and providing workers with pathways to good careers and incomes. Several Federal innovation funds—including the Social Innovation Fund, the Workforce Innovation Fund, and the education-focused Investing in Innovation Fund—support projects that use and build evidence about how to effectively improve skills of at-risk youth that will enable them to succeed in the workforce. In addition, recent Pay for Success initiatives launched by the Department of Justice and Department of Labor have resulted in outcome-focused partnerships among Federal and State governments, local communities, private sector investors, service providers, and research organizations to implement cost-effective services that improve outcomes for disconnected youth while generating savings for taxpayers.
Performance Partnership Pilots are yet another opportunity within the Administration’s efforts to advance innovation and program delivery to address critical social challenges through community-driven, evidence-based strategies. Communities and states that are already receiving grants under the initiatives noted above may be candidates for Performance Partnership Pilots that would achieve even greater impact by leveraging formula grants and other funding streams.