The Need

Preparing for and securing employment is an urgent issue for DC youth. According to recent Census Bureau data, there are 21,000 youth 18-24 (33 percent) living in poverty,[1] 20,988 youth ages 20-24 unemployed[2] and another 12,000 youth ages 14-19 in school and deemed at-risk by DCPS. Both groups would benefit enormously from employment support and opportunities created by our strong local economy—but they’ve been left behind.  Unemployment for DC youth ages 16-19 is twice the national average at 50 percent.[3] The Washington Area economy continues to grow and create new jobs in information technology, health science, hospitality, education and training, construction, transportation, and other priority industries.  But youth are not ready to be employed.

[1] Kidscount, 2014

[2] US Census Data 2015

[3] Brookings 2013


    The Program

    YWP employed more than 250 youth in part time jobs during the past year. Youth staff are organized into two issue-focused campaigns (Health and Poverty) and within those campaigns work on one or more work teams. All YWP programs include intensive capacity training, opportunities for increasing responsibility, work readiness training and skills building, and wages.  As an organization who works to build the leadership of youth who are struggling with economic hardship – providing wages and stipends is essential to enabling their participation in our work. Youth are contributing needed resources to struggling families and need to get ready for the workforce. YWP provides an environment that combines high expectations and meaningful responsibilities with flexibility and allowing for mistakes is key to the youth development and success.


      Policy Work

      YWP is advocating to increase the accessibility, diversity, and availability of youth employment programs so that more youth can be enrolled in part-time and full time employment throughout the year. In December 2015, YWP released A Field-Based Review of DOES Office of Youth Programs and Recommendations for Change, which documents several limitations of youth access and program delivery and includes recommendations for improving services. Since then, YWP youth and adult staff have presented several testimonies and met with leaders in the Mayor’s Office and the DC Council to advocate for improvements.

      Click here to read employment testimonies. 


        Our Impact

        YWP employed more than 250 youth this year and paid more than $140,000 in part time wages. Our youth staff received hundreds of hours of training and management support, and made significant inroads solving community problems. They distributed 96,697 condoms (male, female, and flavored), conducted 24,356 educational interventions, and made 927 individual clinic referrals. They worked side-by-side adult staff to develop and pass new DC Health Education Standards, more youth jobs, expanded after school programming, and other areas. They trained150 health teachers, collected data from more than 500 youth on health, violence, education, and other issues, cultivated more than 200 relationships with administrators and teachers in DC public and charter schools, presented more than 50 testimonies to Council Committees in health and education, and provided youth outreach for school-based STI-HIV testing.