In 2019, the Foundation partnered with Measure of America (MOA), a program of the Social Science Research Council based in New York, to assess youth disconnection within the service area through environmental scan, estimation of local youth disconnection rates for the region using the latest available data, and identification of the drivers and levers for positive change. This “Disconnected Youth” or “Opportunity Youth” measure looks at young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who were neither working nor in school as an indicator of the lack of opportunities to gain skills and relationships towards a successful, productive life.
MOA researched key demographic data with a focus on two statistical geographic areas in the region, referred to as Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs) from the Census - American Community Survey. The two available PUMAs within the analysis included: PUMA 1 (Rural) – made up of Winn, Grant, LaSalle, Catahoula, Concordia and Avoyelles parishes; and, PUMA 2 (Urban) – made up of Rapides and Vernon parishes. As a result, seven of the nine parishes within the Foundation’s service area were included in the analysis; the two parishes not included in the analysis were Natchitoches and Allen parishes.
The 2023 assessment provides an update to MOA’s initial analysis, including a demographic profile of the disconnected youth population and a trend analysis of the youth disconnection rate for the region. To better understand what impacts youth disconnection, the study also looks at key characteristics of different groups of disconnected youth.
Research has demonstrated that disconnected youth are less likely to be employed, own a home, or report being in good health by their 30s.