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Educational attainment defines workforce success, and a robust workforce drives economic stability and growth. Therefore, everyone has a stake in developing systems that promote strong education outcomes and successful transitions to the labor market: businesses and employers that aim to simultaneously build up the next generation of consumers and strengthen the future workforce; elected officials who wish to sustain the city’s current prosperity and growth; parents and concerned community members who want a vibrant, healthy community; and youth themselves, who by and large want to lead stable, productive lives.

It’s equally important to understand where the funding comes from. Our companion report, “Connecting Youth to Opportunity: A Resource Map of the District’s Disconnected Youth Dollars” provides context on how the funding landscape provides, or doesn’t, educational and workforce opportunities for DC youth and young adults.

Though the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) has existed in many forms since 1979, there exists a lack of public information about the program’s performance. This has been a consistent cause for concern among advocates. To help combat this lack of information, in 2010 the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA) created a quality indicator rubric that assesses seven areas of SYEP that the DCAYA membership felt were key to the program’s success.

Between March 7th and March 21st, at over 70 sites across the District, the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates surveyed 490 unaccompanied homeless or unstably housed youth and young adults between the ages of 12-24.

In this survey report we review the background to and outcomes of a survey of nearly 1,000 District of Columbia youth and make recommendations for next steps to change the dropout crisis into a graduation opportunity.