An estimated five million Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 are both out of school and unemployed. These youth are more likely than those who work or complete a degree to face long-term unemployment, permanent school dropout, welfare dependence, and criminal involvement and incarceration.
Many community college students face unexpected financial emergencies. They may be caused by the loss of a job; a health crisis; an unexpected increase in rent, utilities, or child care costs; or even a fire or natural disaster. Many Americans have been hit hard by the recession.
Large, comprehensive high schools in urban areas are often troubled environments for teaching and learning. Research strongly indicates that, in such schools, ninth grade is a year in which many students start on the path to low achievement and dropping out.
Many low-income children in the early grades need after-school care. And many of these children score well below their more advantaged peers on standardized tests of reading and math.
The welfare system has been transformed over the past two decades, notably through the introduction of stricter work requirements and time limits on cash assistance in the 1990s. At the same time, government at both the federal and the state level invested in offering financial work supports of unprecedented scope to low-income parents.