The Challenge

The Challenge

America faces a crisis. We are in danger of losing our next generation of young people and their contributions to society as increasing numbers of low-income youth fall behind in school or drop out, cannot find a job, enter the foster care or juvenile justice system, or are otherwise at risk of not living up to their potential.

By the Numbers

The economic costs as well as the human costs are great. Our high rate of youth unemployment, our low ranking in international educational surveys, our swollen prison population and other indicators warn that America is also losing comparative advantages in a highly competitive global marketplace.

This is a national crisis, and in failing to address it successfully we are failing our youth. Solutions exist. There are programs with compelling evidence that actually work and help young people overcome poverty and the obstacles it throws in their way. The pages that follow in this section cite many of the solutions that the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation has identified and supports. 

The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation has over a decade and a half’s experience in identifying and helping to expand programs that lift the life prospects of the most neglected youth, the hardest to reach and least likely to succeed. In addition to being poor, these young people:

  • Have dropped out of school or are close to doing so;
  • Are out of school and out of work;
  • Are involved in or exiting the justice system;
  • Are involved in or transitioning out of foster care; and/or
  • Are engaged in or in danger of engaging in risky behaviors that can lead to crime, teen pregnancy and other disruptions in already troubled lives.

Our experience has taught us how hard it is to turn lives around, but it has also convinced us that our investment approach can help grantees with effective programs meet the challenge of creating a better future for our children and our nation.