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Hillary Clinton's Youth Opportunity Agenda

July 27, 2007

Today, Hillary Clinton announced a Youth Opportunity Agenda to address the silent crisis of disconnected youth in America. Hillary's 35 years of experience fighting for children and families has taught her that every young person in America has potential. Yet today we are failing to realize that potential. More than four million of our young people between 16 to 24 are out of school and out of work. The number of these disconnected youth has grown an alarming 18% between 2000 and 2005. The situation of the 1.4 million young African American and Hispanic men who are out-of-work and out-of-school today is particularly troubling. These young men are less likely to graduate high school, more likely to end up in prison and are often left jobless and poor.

Hillary explained that Washington too often views these disconnected youth - and particularly young minority men - as either "a threat, a headache or a lost cause." As a result, they are often left out of government efforts to reward work and support families. Yet there are proven strategies being implemented across the country to help these youth reach their potential. Hillary's Youth Opportunity Agenda builds on these successes and calls for a renewed national commitment to ensure these young people no longer fall through the cracks. Her six-point Youth Opportunity Agenda will:

  1. Close the Early Achievement Gap: Hillary will close the achievement gap that opens even before young children reach kindergarten by investing $10 billion in universal preschool and expanding nurse-home visits for first-time mothers.
  2. Provide Early Mentoring and Support to Keep At-Risk Youth on Track: Hillary will expand mentoring and support programs to help one million at-risk youth aspire for college and job success. She will also launch a $100 million Public/Private Internship Initiative to give at-risk middle- and high-school students job skills and work experience during the summer.
  3. Support Comprehensive, Community-Based Approaches to Reengaging Disconnected Youth: Hillary will challenge state and local leaders to develop community-based solutions to reengaging disconnected youth. In addition, she will offer 1.5 million disconnected youth a second chance with meaningful job training in growing industries in their own communities, including renewable energy, healthcare, construction and financial services.
  4. Combat Ongoing Racial and Sex Discrimination in the Labor Market: Hillary will ensure equal access to jobs by combating discrimination in our labor market. She will reverse the Bush Administrations cuts to the EEOC and restore the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division to its historic role as a body that vigorously enforces people's civil rights.
  5. Link Responsible Fatherhood to Economic Opportunity: Hillary will restore funding for child support enforcement to make sure that fathers do their part to support their children. But she will also reward responsible fatherhood by ensuring that every dollar of child support payments directly benefits children and expanding the EITC to give fathers more economic opportunities to do right by their kids.
  6. Close the Prison Revolving Door: Hillary will invest $200 million in Reentry Partnership Grants to reward successful community-based approaches to reintegrating ex-offenders into the economy and society.

Details Of Hillary Clinton's Six-Point Youth Opportunity Agenda

  1. Close the Early Achievement Gap: According to Nobel Laureate James Heckman, over half of the black-white achievement gap that exists at the end of high school is already present before children start kindergarten. To close that gap, Hillary will:
    • Invest $10 Billion in Universal Preschool: Hillary has a detailed plan to provide universal access to high quality pre-school for all four-year olds through a federal-state partnership.
    • Expand Nurse Home Visitation: Hillary will also work to expand early Head Start and innovative nurse home visitation programs to help first-time mothers prepare for, and care for, their newborn children. Children who participated in these visitation programs had 56% fewer arrests and 81% fewer convictions than children who did not participate.
  2. Provide Early Mentoring and Support to Keep At-Risk Youth on Track: Many at-risk youth are falling off the track to higher education and career success early in their middle school years because they lack the tools and positive role models to help them succeed. To help keep at-risk youth motivated to stay in school, pursue higher education and good jobs, Hillary will:
    • Expand Early-Intervention Mentoring Programs to Help One Million At-Risk Youth Aspire for College and Job Success: Successful preparation for post-secondary education is increasingly vital for young workers to succeed in our globalized economy. The federal GEAR UP program currently supports innovative partnerships between local school systems, colleges, businesses, and non-profit organizations to provide middle-school students in high risk schools with comprehensive college-readiness services--including tutoring, mentoring, and college visits. Students remain enrolled in the program as they transition into high school, and receive curricular and academic support at key points in their academic career. Other mentoring programs like the Hillside Work Scholarship Connection in Rochester, New York have employed promising strategies, including the development of individualized college and career plans for middle-school students. Despite promising results, the Bush Administration has consistently tried to eliminate federal funding for such early-intervention mentoring programs. Hillary will double federal support for early intervention mentoring programs over five years, benefiting an additional one million middle-school students in high-risk schools.
    • Invest $100 Million in a New Public/Private Summer Internship Program: The summer months are critical for at-risk youth. Without positive enrichment, these youth can lose ground academically, further widening the achievement gap and increasing the likelihood that they will drop-out of school. Yet when young people have a chance to work in a job setting or on meaningful service during the summer, they learn the value and potential of work, and are more likely to stay in school and stay on track. In addition, well-designed summer internships provide valuable access to informal networks, which are vital in a job market where about 70% of jobs are secured through such connections.
    • Many businesses are eager to take on summer interns or apprentices to fill growing labor shortages, and are willing to help cover costs. But to participate, they need confidence that they are working with a trusted intermediary that will manage placement and prepare students so they are ready to contribute on day one. A number of organizations across the country are pioneering innovative partnerships with local schools and businesses to facilitate high-quality summer internships that teach work and academic skills. As President, Hillary will provide $100 million over five years in challenge grants to scale successful models and create internship coordination centers in cities across the country.
  3. Support Comprehensive, Community-Based Approaches to Reengaging Disconnected Youth: While education is fundamentally important to improving the life chances of at-risk youth, more must be done to provide second-chances to those who fall out of the education system. Hillary will:
    • Provide Opportunity for 1.5 Million Disconnected Youth in Job Programs Linked to High-Growth Economic Sectors: Hillary understands that young people who are out of work and out of school need more than a minimum-wage job--they need skills, self-confidence, a supportive community, and relevant academic and skills training that can put them back on the path to education or a high-paying job in their own community. Yet currently the federal government provides such training to less than 200,000 disconnected young people each year. As President, Hillary will double the number of education and job training opportunities available over 5 years--providing support to more than 1.5 million new youth over the next decade. She will do so by expanding successful federal programs--such as Youth Build, Job Corps, National Guard ChalleNGe, AmeriCorps and Youth Service Corps--that allow youth to serve their communities and learn to make a difference while making a living. She will also invest in promising new state and local programs and new sectoral training partnerships that prepare youth for jobs in high-growth industries in their own communities, including renewable energy, health care, engineering, construction and financial services. These programs should work closely with area businesses so participants can see tangible job prospects at the end of the process. They should also seek to provide a critical mass of peer and community support to help young people make a break from gangs or drugs and get on the right path.
    • Support City and Community Plans to Track Drop-Outs and Take Responsibility for Disconnected Youth: Hillary believes it will truly "take a village" to address the overlapping educational, economic and social challenges facing disconnected youth. She will call on mayors and other local officials to convene leaders from the education, business, non-profit, religious and workforce development sectors to develop comprehensive, locally-owned strategies to reengage at-risk youth. The federal government will support this process by awarding $250 million per year in competitive grants to lower-income cities and communities. Communities will be encouraged to build off promising models like creating community youth centers with case managers to track youth and provide support services, and expanding alternative education and Career Academy programs.
  4. Combat Ongoing Racial and Sex Discrimination in the Labor Market: Many young minority workers continue to face discriminatory treatment in the labor market. In a recent study, employers were twice as likely to hire a similarly qualified white applicant rather than a black applicant, and even hired white applicants with criminal records at the same or higher rates than black applicants without. This discrimination offends the constitution and undermines economic progress for these groups. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has failed to effectively enforce our employment discrimination laws. The Administration has sapped morale and resources from the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, advocated a restrictive interpretation of Title VII in a recent Supreme Court case, and cut the EEOC's workforce by 20%. To reverse this trend, Hillary will:
    • Recommit the U.S. Government to Fully Enforcing our Anti-Discrimination Laws. Hillary will restore funding for the EEOC and work to restore the historic reputation of the Civil Rights Division as a body that vigorously enforces people's civil rights. She will also fight to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to end the gender discrimination in pay that contributes to African American women today earning only $.72 for every dollar men earn.
  5. Link Responsible Fatherhood to Economic Opportunity: Hillary believes that fathers who have the financial resources must pay their full and fair share of child support. Child support payments lift more than one million children out of poverty each year, and enable 300,000 families to leave the TANF rolls. But she is also committed to ensuring that responsible fathers have the economic opportunities to do right by their children and their families. About half of African American men age 25-34 without a high school education are non-custodial fathers; as are 25% of those age 16-24. Child support payments can represent half of these men's income, and can provide a strong incentive to work in the underground economy. To support both responsible fatherhood and economic opportunity, Hillary will:
    • Reverse the Bush Administration's Deep Cuts to the Child Support Enforcement Budget. The Bush Administration's cuts would reduce child support payments by $11 billion over the next decade. Hillary will reverse these cuts, and make sure that states and counties have the resources they need to collect child support. This is a wise investment: every dollar spent on child support returns $4.58 in child support payments. Hillary will also encourage states to take more realistic, cooperative approaches to managing arrears, so that fathers leaving prison are not immediately saddled with unrealistic payment obligations.
    • Promote Policies to Ensure that Every Dollar of Child Support that Fathers Pay is Passed on Directly to their Children. Research demonstrates that fathers pay more of their child support and develop deeper bonds with their children if they know that those payments are going directly to their children. Hillary will work with states and counties to ensure that they have support and incentives to pass on every dollar of child support to benefit children. This reform will increase child support payments and result in substantial administrative savings.
    • Make Work Pay for Responsible Fathers by Expanding the EITC: While the EITC is widely seen as one of the most successful anti-poverty programs in the US, single workers and non-custodial parents currently receive only a modest maximum credit of $412. As a result, single workers and non-custodial fathers--many of whom face substantial child support obligations--have only a weak incentive to work through the EITC. In addition, because the credit is available only to those over age 25, it does not provide a work incentive to many young minority men and fathers who face the steepest barriers to participate in the labor market. Hillary will triple the size of the EITC benefit for single workers, providing more than 4 million people a pro-work tax cut averaging $750.
  6. Close the Prison Revolving Door: Nearly 650,000 ex-offenders are released from prison each year. Two-thirds of these ex-offenders are expected to be re-arrested within three years of release (recidivism among young offenders is as high as 75%). This recidivism rate costs our country in higher crime, increased prison costs, and continued instability in families and communities. Part of the reason ex-offenders end up committing crimes again is that they face steep barriers to entering the legitimate labor market. Employers are uncomfortable hiring ex-offenders. State laws bar employers from hiring ex-offenders in a number of the fastest-growing job categories. And the sectors where ex-offenders are most employable (e.g. unskilled manufacturing) are declining as a share of our workforce. Yet currently, assistance for ex-offenders is incomplete and uncoordinated. To reduce recidivism and increase economic opportunity for ex-offenders, Hillary will:
    • Create New Incentive-Based Reentry Partnership Grants: These new Re-entry Partnership Grants will ask states and local government agencies to create partnerships between corrections facilities, community and religious organizations, community colleges or vocational programs, job placement agencies, and local employers. These partnerships will be required to develop strategies to provide a comprehensive set of services and opportunities to ex-offenders, including job training and placement, education toward a high school degree, housing assistance, meaningful service opportunities, and drug and mental health counseling. Having business interests at the table would help ensure that these interventions were closely calibrated to local labor market needs. Hillary will invest $200 million in competitive grants over five years, which will be awarded in part based on success in reducing recidivism.


  7. Cost: The total cost of Hillary Clinton's Youth Opportunity Agenda is approximately $5 billion per year. Hillary will finance this cost without increasing the deficit by closing the so-called "carried interest loophole" which allows some Wall Street investment managers to pay a lower tax rate on their earned income than middle class workers. She will also dedicate a portion of the savings from her efforts to improve the efficiency of our government, including reducing improper federal payments; better managing the federal government's surplus property; freezing the federal travel budget; and streamlining the federal vehicle fleet.

Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton's Youth Opportunity Agenda Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/316230

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