Kentucky Youth Career Center

The Kentucky Youth Career Center and REimage are currently offering an enrollment bonus ($25 e-gift card) for those who enroll in one of the programs. KYCC provides case management and supportive services for 18-24 year-old out-of-school youth seeking assistance with earning their GED, basic job skills, occupational certifications, paid internships, and more. Youth have access to supportive services such as TARC tickets/passes, funds for work- or education-related needs, and incentives for achieving goals. REimage provides the same services listed above, plus court-support, for justice-involved in- or out-of-school youth ages 16-24. Please reach out to or for more information. 

The Kentucky Youth Career Center is currently recruiting for our Internship Academy program. Internship Academy is a 10-week PAID internship program that pairs professional development and an internship in the youth’s field of interest. Youth earn $11.50 per hour for up to 30 hours per week while in the program, plus weekly bonuses. Youth must be 18-24 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, and eligible for enrollment in KYCC. For more information, please reach out to or
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CSYA’s Strategies for Setting and Achieving Common Goals

The Coalition Supporting Young Adults creates and implements a shared agenda through eight key activities:

  1. Engage Young People as Decision Makers: Create opportunities for impacted youth to tell their stories, identify workable solutions, and develop advocacy and leadership skills. Fully integrate the Social Justice Youth Development Model into the processes used by CSYA to create change.
  2. Establish Collective Accountability: Lead the process of setting community-wide goals and tracking progress in an annual report to the community that includes current resources (program and fiscal map), progress toward benchmarks, indicators of education completion and housing stability, and recommendations for further action.
  3. Develop a Comprehensive Funding Strategy: Develop a cohesive plan that outlines funding priorities based on a fiscal map of current and potential resources committed to OY efforts from public and private, local and national funders. Establish relationships with potential funders and invite collaborative or targeted asks.
  4. Advocate for Policy Change: Identify public and education policies and procedures at local and state levels that inadvertently create barriers for disconnected youth. Mobilize young adults and the boarder community to advocate for changes, clarifications, or additions when needed.
  5. Professional Development: Train CSYA members’ staff on effective strategies for reconnecting young people to education, employment, housing, and other supports. Create opportunities for collaboration between organizations and identify potential partnerships that streamline or expand services.
  6. Expand community awareness of the issues and effective strategies impacting OY through media, speaking engagements, community conversations, and connections with other local, regional, and national initiatives.
  7. Create ongoing cross-agency work groups focused on improving the education, employment, housing, and health & wellness services and systems affecting OY. Membership on each work group include organizational decision-makers, frontline staff, and youth from “anchor” and related organizations.
  8. Promote best practice programs and services such as:
  • Emergency shelters with support to transition to stable housing and employment;
  • New pathways to education attainment for over age/under credit and other nontraditional learners;
  • A transportation navigator system equipped to open access to multiple options;
  • “No Wrong Door” network of services available at nontraditional times (nights, weekends);
  • Training of adults to advocate for access to education;
  • Career exploration and job coaching services;
  • Opportunities to “learn and earn” concurrently;
  • Additional supports for youth and young adults with special education needs, experiences with homelessness, or who have been involved in the child welfare system;
  • Connection to trained adult volunteers serving as anchors in a web of support.
  • Mental health supports, positive youth development, and trauma-informed care.
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Developing and Demonstrating Anti-racist Practices

Wednesday, July 1
2:00 -3:00 pm

Aishia A. Brown, PhD, University of Louisville
Nikki Thornton, True Up
Lacey McNary, McNary Group

How is racism showing up in your work with youth? Join us as advocates lifting youth voices for equity and resolutions.  There will be time for sharing your experiences, acknowledging where we are as a community, and establishing a vision for where we want to be.

CSYA Statement of Unity: The Coalition Supporting Young Adults is committed to transforming the way Louisville cares for vulnerable youth and young adults. Therefore, we stand in unity with our black and brown communities and allies who are vocalizing concerns and demands for equitable, anti-racist, and humane treatment and advancements. Furthermore, we commit to speaking up and addressing all forms of injustice, brutality, and discrimination. 

Advocating for Disconnected Youth

We are experiencing unprecedented challenges in Louisville. For the one in ten of our young people who are approaching adulthood disconnected, the challenges are particularly daunting.

Mayor Fischer has proposed in his current budget $1.5 million for the Office of Resilience and Community Services and KentuckianaWorks to help prepare our community’s disconnected and vulnerable youth. The funding, redirected from prior allocations to the now closed Youth Detention Center (total prior budget of $8+ million), will make a significant positive difference.

We need your help to get this budget passed.

Join us in asking Louisville Metro Council to:

  • Fully fund the development of a one-stop employment and education center for reengaging vulnerable youth with a blend of resources from Louisville Metro ($1 million reallocated from the closed Youth Detention Center), partner organizations, and federal and state funds.
  • Allocate Louisville Metro External Agency Funds to programs supporting disconnected youth ($500,000 of funding from the closed Youth Detention Center).

Additional actions Louisville Metro can take today:

  • Task Evolve 502 with allocating 15% of scholarship funds to young people who are not in school.
  • Establish an Education Committee of the Louisville Metro Council.
  • Partner with private funders to invest in dropout prevention both in schools and in the community.
  • Make information on the employment opportunities for youth and young adults accessible. Identify employers hiring through SummerWorks, Academies of Louisville and the Internship Academy.

What you can do:

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Sample Letter

Dear Council Person:

Skilled, credentialed, healthy, and engaged young people are essential in our effort to restart Louisville’s economy post-COVID. However, a significant group of Louisville’s youth and young adult are not on track. Organization Name calls on city leaders to invest in Louisville’s “disconnected” youth.

In Louisville, approximately 8,900 (10.8%) of all 16- to 24-year-olds are considered disconnected, neither in school nor working due to learning challenges, poverty or homelessness, foster care or juvenile justice involvement, structural racism, mental health problems, or related issues.  Additionally, more than 9,800 18 to 24-year olds in Louisville lack a high school diploma. These disruptions in education and employment overshadow the opportunities young people have to learn, to become financially independent, and to fully participate in our community.

The economic crisis caused by COVID will increase the number of disconnected youth in our community. Overall, young people are more likely to have been working in COVID-affected service and retail sectors and account for nearly half of all workers paid minimum wages or less. They are less likely to have access to health insurance, paid sick leave, or savings to endure a recession. One in five young people in Louisville experienced poverty growing up and now report their incomes provide essential or the only support to the household.

The sudden and unprecedented drop in school and work opportunities for young people is also likely contributing to the recent increase in youth-involved crime in our community.  Closing the Louisville Metro Youth Detention Center was an essential step that now challenges us as a community to develop more effective strategies to help struggling young people get back on track.

While organization name recognizes the unprecedented constraints of both public and private funders, we call all our leaders to take the following specific actions to address Louisville’s growing and critical number of disconnected youth:

  • Fully fund the development of a one-stop employment and education center for reengaging vulnerable youth, with a blend of resources from Louisville Metro ($1 million reallocated from the closed Youth Detention Center), partner organizations, and federal and state funds.
  • Allocate Louisville Metro External Agency Funds to programs supporting disconnected youth ($500,000 of funding from the closed Youth Detention Center).
  • Task Evolve 502 with allocating 15% of scholarship funds to young people who are not in school.
  • Establish an Education Committee of the Louisville Metro Council.
  • Partner with private funders to invest in dropout prevention both in schools and in the community.
  • Make information on the employment opportunities for youth and young adults accessible. Identify employers hiring through SummerWorks, Academies of Louisville and the Internship Academy.

It is the right time to reverse the decades-long dis-investments in youth programs in Louisville and to focus on the growing number of disconnected youth in our community. The economic impact of re-investing far outweighs the cost. Each young person reconnected will generate approximately $105,500 in new tax revenue and will save taxpayers $65,230 in social supports.


The Promise of Adolescence: Realizing Opportunity for All Youth


National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and EducationHealth and Medicine DivisionBoard on Children, Youth, and FamiliesCommittee on the Neurobiological and Socio-behavioral Science of Adolescent Development and Its Applications; Richard J. Bonnie and Emily P. Backes, Editors


Adolescence—beginning with the onset of puberty and ending in the mid-20s—is a critical period of development during which key areas of the brain mature and develop. These changes in brain structure, function, and connectivity mark adolescence as a period of opportunity to discover new vistas, to form relationships with peers and adults, and to explore one’s developing identity. It is also a period of resilience that can ameliorate childhood setbacks and set the stage for a thriving trajectory over the life course.

Because adolescents comprise nearly one-fourth of the entire U.S. population, the nation needs policies and practices that will better leverage these developmental opportunities to harness the promise of adolescence—rather than focusing myopically on containing its risks. This report examines the neurobiological and socio-behavioral science of adolescent development and outlines how this knowledge can be applied, both to promote adolescent well-being, resilience, and development, and to rectify structural barriers and inequalities in opportunity, enabling all adolescents to flourish.

Free Download

Our nation’s youth hold the key to our future well-being. Investing generously in them will create a “more perfect union.”

5 Things to Know about Youth Not Employed or in School

Child Trends


teen boy

Autonomy is a necessary developmental milestone for adolescents and young adults. As they pursue greater autonomy, young people are also disposed biologically to begin taking greater risks, which for some youth can be particularly detrimental, such as unprotected sexual activity, truancy, or experimentation with drugs and alcohol. Not surprisingly, then, adolescence is a time during which rates of teenage pregnancyrunning awayschool dropout, and juvenile justice involvement increase. These, in turn, can result in disconnection from important institutions that help prepare youth for a successful transition to full independence.As recently as 2012, there were approximately 6.7 million youth in the United States who were not enrolled in school and who had been disconnected from the workforce for at least six months. That represents about 17 percent of the 16-to-24 age group nationally. Sometimes referred to as “opportunity youth” or “disconnected youth,” this population is among the hardest to reach with traditional social interventions. Yet, there is an emerging body of practice and literature that suggests these young people can be successfully reconnected to meaningful opportunities. Here’s what we know:


The population of disconnected youth is diverse.

The definition of disconnected youth can be misleading to the extent that it suggests dropout status and connection to the workforce are the only distinguishing factors of these young people. Several subgroups exist within the population of disconnected youth. A primary distinction can be made between “chronically” disconnected youth, who have not been in school or work since age 16, and “under-attached” youth, who have not completed college or maintained a job despite some intermittent connection to school and/or work. Beyond chronic disconnection and under-attachment, research suggests there are three distinct segments of disconnected youth: 1) young high school dropouts (ages 16-18); 2) older high school dropouts (ages 19-24); and 3) youth with diplomas or GEDs who are disconnected from postsecondary education and the labor market (ages 19-24). One can further distinguish youth who are close and far from graduation based on the number of credits still needed. Disconnected youth may also be distinguished by factors such as teen parenthood, immigration status, mental or physical disability, juvenile justice or child welfare involvement, and homelessness.


Disconnection from school and work is often associated with connection to public and other systems that present challenges and opportunities.

Disconnected youth are more likely than their peers to be involved in several systems that present obstacles to future success. Thankfully, these systems can also be leveraged to get youth back on track. For example, 63 percent of crimes committed by 16- to 24-year-olds are perpetrated by disconnected youth, leading to disproportionate representation in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Reforms like investing in alternatives to juvenile detention and approaches like Positive Youth Justice are gaining momentum and helping provide transformative opportunities for court-involved youth. Disconnected youth often face multiple barriers to sustained employment (e.g., lack of affordable transportation, child care costs, limited education). Even those who have been employed are likely to have held seasonal and low-wage jobs. Consequently, they are more likely to connect with informal labor markets. This pseudo-connection to the labor market may undermine motivation to re-engage in formal institutions of work or education. Understanding local informal labor markets and the needs these markets meet for disconnected youth can provide useful insights into how to recruit and support these youth. Finally, disconnected youth’s lack of education and employment leads a disproportionate number of them to draw on public assistance compared with their peers. While this assistance represents a short-term cost to society, it can also provide the lift needed for some disconnected youth to re-engage with school or work. At least, involvement with systems providing public assistance represents a point of connection between disconnected youth and more comprehensive efforts to support them.


“Connecting” disconnected youth could result in significant societal savings and individual benefits.

Nationally, unserved disconnected youth represent a devastating forfeiture of human potential and enormous financial costs (i.e., potential savings). Youth who do not finish high school earn less and subsequently pay significantly less in taxes than graduates. Further, they consume more public benefits and are more likely to engage in delinquent and criminal acts. The estimated cohort of 6.7 million young people cited earlier resulted in a staggering cost of $93 billion to U.S. taxpayers in 2011. These are only economic costs-those that result directly in increased public expenditure or forfeiture, such as a decreased tax base or increased expenditure on prisons-and do not include social costs including reduced individual earnings and pain and suffering associated with crime victimization, among other things. Recent research estimates that each disconnected youth costs taxpayers about $236,000 over their lifetime and that the social costs are at least $704,000. When social factors are considered, the lifetime estimated cost of the current 6.7 million disconnected youth is $3.6 trillion.


Improving prospects for disconnected youth requires coordinated solutions.

Because of the diversity of young people in the population of disconnected youth, communities seeking to address their needs would do well to craft approaches that integrate resources from across multiple stakeholder groups (e.g., schools, businesses, mental health, juvenile justice). For these young people, there are often multiple circumstances that might lead to disconnection. A parenting teen might drop out of school because she cannot afford child care and her school does not provide care for the child during the school day. A young adult with a GED might struggle to find and sustain employment because of a criminal record. These complex needs require multiple routes to reconnection, or “on-ramps,” that can only be provided through multi-sector partnerships (e.g., credit recovery programs, affordable child care for teen parents, data sharing between local employers and job training providers). In fact, the White House Council for Community Solutions has recommended cross-sector collaboration as a vital component of strategies to improve the prospects of disconnected youth. Research now exists that outlines elements associated with effective community collaboratives, and particularly those aimed at improving outcomes for disconnected youth


Disconnected youth want to be connected.

Youth who are out of work and not in school are not lost causes. More than half of disconnected youth report that they are actively seeking employment and almost all of them say that having a good career is important to them. Likewise, completing college or obtaining a technical certification is important to most disconnected youth, though various barriers exist (e.g., money, transportation, application process). Given the appropriate opportunities and supports, these young people can achieve the success they envision for themselves. In fact, there are several pioneering organizations throughout the country that are creating meaningful opportunities for disconnected youth. There is a national movement to catalyze efforts, including organizations such as the Aspen Institute’s Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund aimed at delivering high-quality, coordinated support to disconnected youth across the country. The Social Innovation Fund is also supporting projects like youthCONNECT that are helping advance the field’s knowledge about what works to prevent and address disconnection. As results of these efforts become available, it will be important for the field to document the circumstances under which partnerships thrive and disconnected youth achieve positive outcomes.

Abandoned: America’s Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection

Author Anne Kim skillfully weaves heart-rending stories of young people navigating early adulthood alone, in communities where poverty is endemic and opportunities almost nonexistent. She then describes a growing awareness—including new research from the field of adolescent brain science—that “emerging adulthood” is just as crucial a developmental period as early childhood, and she profiles an array of unheralded programs that provide young people with the supports they need to achieve self-sufficiency.

A major work of deeply reported narrative nonfiction, Abandoned joins the small shelf of books that change the way we see our society and point to a different path forward.

The author of Abandoned: America’s Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection (The New Press), Anne Kim, is a writer, lawyer, and public policy expert with a long career in Washington, DC–based think tanks working in and around Capitol Hill.

More information

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Intro to Reengagment Center Model

Thursday, June 4, 2020
2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Lynn Rippy, YouthBuild Louisville
Lance Meeks, Tuscon AZ Reengagment Center
Jennifer Welch, Kentucky Youth Career Center

Reengagment Centers have been a strategy communities throughout the US have used to connect marginalized youth and young adults with education, employment, and needed services. They may look differently in each community, but generally reengagement centers are hosted by one or more “anchor” organizations coordinating outreach, assessments, case management, referrals, and follow-up services. Additional services are provided by partner organizations offering services like mental health counseling, peer supports, job readiness, mentoring, and supplies. 

In this webinar, we’ll learn about the Reengagement Center model, why the model fits in Louisville, and who is already (or could be) working to implement the model here.

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Social Justice Youth Development

Thursday, May 14, 2020
1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Aishia A. Brown, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences, University of Louisville


Social Justice Youth Development (SJYD) is an approach to youth development that aims to work against systemic oppression experienced by youth and their communities. This one-hour webinar will provide a brief introduction to SJYD and the critical role it plays in youth development practice.


  • Identify key principles of the social justice youth development framework
  • Compare and contrast the social justice youth development framework with other prominent youth development frameworks and approaches
  • Demonstrate application of social justice youth development principles

Training for Education Advocates

Topic: Advocating for the Special Education Rights of Court-Involved Youth
Trainers: Claire Nilsen Blumenson and Tayo Belle with the School Justice Project

Session 1: Training for legal professionals
Thursday, January 16, 2020
12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Judicial Center, 700 W Jefferson Street, First Floor Training Rm
Information and registration: Maria Gurren

Session 2: Training for education and community-based professionals
Thursday, January 16, 2020
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Louisville Free Public Library, 301 York Street, Community Room
Information and Registration: Elizabeth Senn-Alvey

The School Justice Project (SJP) is a legal services and advocacy organization serving older students with special education needs who are involved in justice systems. Since 2013, SJP has been dedicated to ensuring that older (ages 17-22), court-involved youth with disabilities receive a quality education in the District of Columbia. By using special education legal advocacy in the juvenile and criminal contexts, SJP aims to increase access to education, decrease future court contact, and reshape the education and justice landscapes for older court-involved students with disabilities.

Since 2018, the School Justice Project has been working with legal and education advocates in Louisville and across the state to explore ways to strengthen the educational services for court-involved youth/young adults with special education needs. The results of their work are tangible but there is much to do together.  Please join us for this important opportunity to build your advocacy skills and to add your ideas on how to improve education outcomes for struggling and marginalized youth.

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