Battling Unemployment Among D.C.’s Low-Income, Black Youth

Many of D.C.’s young people who live way below the poverty line, aren’t in school or looking for work are black, a new report finds.

Researchers at The Brookings Institution examined these disparities in an effort to propose some solutions. About 28,000 D.C. residents aged 16 to 24 lack a bachelor’s degree and live 200 percent below the poverty line. And 22,000 of those young people are black.

Low-income D.C. black youth lacking bachelor’s degrees

The Brookings folks propose a few solutions, and among them is abandoning the “college for all approach.” But, as they note, there is a history of discrimination when it comes to who has been deemed worthy of higher education (emphasis mine):

Integrating employment and occupational skills into the high school and post-secondary curricula is often disparaged, with career and technical education (previously known as vocational education) seen as a dumping ground for students not deemed “college-ready.” The legacy of tracking, segregation, and discrimination in the educational system certainly provides support for that view— education can be a vehicle for upward mobility but it can also perpetuate inequality based on race and class.

Here are a few more recommendations in the report:

1) Set this goal: by 2022, 90 percent of D.C. youths should have earned a post-secondary credential and have full-time work by age 24.

2) Identify how many young people fall out of the “educational and training pipeline” and at which points.

3) Develop, improve and expand programs that help young people make the transition to adulthood.

4) Make it easier for employers to link up with schools, training centers and community groups so that young people can be work-ready.

5) Make better use of data to track the success of programs and close training programs that don’t “demonstrate effectiveness.”