Out-of-school, or disconnected, youth are generally defined as young people between the ages of 16 – 24 that lack a high school diploma and are not enrolled in school and are detached from work. There are 6.7 million young people in this age cohort that are out of school and out of work. Of that number, 3.4 million are "chronic", defined as never in school or work after 16 years of age and 3.3 million are "under-attached," defined as a lack of progression through college or into a job. Out-of-school males of color are more likely to be unemployed and live in poverty than their white counterparts. In addition, this population faces a likelihood of increased interactions with the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
It is against this backdrop that this roundtable discussion was convened. Local and national policy leaders, practitioners, advocates, and researchers assembled around the education and employment of out-of-school males of color. Throughout the day, roundtable participants offered thought-provoking comments and responses to the questions that were posed around barriers, solutions, and creating public will to address the challenges faced by this population. However, in some cases the participants offered more obvious statements about the needs and challenges of out-of-school males of color– which will require bold and immediate solutions at the federal, state, and local levels. This paper is a summary of the notes and key themes that emerged during the roundtable discussion. The roundtable participants and the notes provide additional content knowledge in framing the education and employment policies and practices for out-of-school males of color.
This and other roundtable discussions informed an issue brief from RWJF and CLASP: "Investing in Boys and Young Men of Color: The Promise and Opportunity."