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Disconnected Youth in the Triangle: An Ominous Problem Hidden in Plain Sight

Overview: 

Disconnected Youth in the Triangle: An Ominous Problem Hidden in Plain Sight was a report, commissioned by the N.C. GlaxoSmithKline Foundation, about the status of young people, ages 16-24, who are neither in school nor employed. Research has shown that the problem of disconnected youth is particularly acute in the South, where disproportionate numbers of young people have dropped out of school and are essentially unemployable and without resources to better themselves. To generate a community discussion about the report, in November 2008, MDC convened a group of concerned citizens for a learning tour of Portland, Oregon, a city nationally recognized for its efforts to prevent disconnection and reconnect disconnected youth. This group has grown into Durham Connected by 25, a collaboration of community leaders that is creating an integrated system of research-based initiatives to reconnect Durham's youth. Future work includes a conversation throughout the Triangle region of North Carolina about the implications of the research and a plan to broaden the work into a "call to action" for the Southeast region.

Read an interview with David Dodson about what MDC has discovered in its research on disconnected youth in North Carolina's Research Triangle area and the gravity of the problem.

Progress: 
  • After an MDC-guided trip to learn from Portland’s youth system, Durham Technical Community College received a $300,000 grant from the Gateway to College National Network for a program to help at-risk youth obtain a high school diploma and college credits. “This is about helping kids who find themselves lost in the system and giving them a second shot at being somebody,” N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue said in a 2011 visit to the program.
  • Drawing on MDC’s 2008 research, the Alliance Behavioral Healthcare (formerly known as the Durham Center), the public agency charged with providing mental health services in the region, received a $5.9 million federal grant, with nearly $8 million in local matching funds. Now in its first year of implementation, the BECOMING project will establish community partnerships for empowering at least 800 young people who have serious mental illnesses and difficulty establishing healthy relationships.

Go Deeper:

For more information on MDC and Disconnected Youth in the Triangle: An Ominous Problem Hidden in Plain Sight, contact: Richard E. Hart.