WASHINGTON – The Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality (GCPI) released a new report today titled The Youth Opportunity Guarantee: A Framework for Success, highlighting the urgent need to establish a Youth Opportunity Guarantee for education, training, and employment. GCPI’s proposal is the first of its kind in the United States, developed after years of extensive research and consultation with well over 100 experts and stakeholders.

“It’s time our economic agenda addresses a serious reality – the status quo is not working for young adults in the U.S. labor market. Youth are forced to navigate underfunded and unconnected secondary, postsecondary, and workforce systems. An estimated 4.6 million youth ages 16 to 24 are neither in school nor working. Employers struggle to find and retain the workers they need, as our economy will have to rely increasingly on today’s younger workers to support an aging population,” said Laura Tatum, Director of Jobs and Education at the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality. “The Youth Opportunity Guarantee is an overdue promise to connect youth with a comprehensive plan for long-term success.”

The Youth Opportunity Guarantee provides a framework that integrates secondary, postsecondary, and employment systems to make long-term career success a reality for every young person in the United States (ages 16 to 24), regardless of background. The guarantee promises:

  • High school or equivalent education that prepares students for college and career;
  • A range of postsecondary options that help lead to labor market success; and
  • Quality career training, national service, or employment.

“The Youth Opportunity Guarantee is what our young people need, what our economy needs, and what our country needs. It builds on the great progress happening in cities and states around the country that has been led by elected officials, nonprofits, employers, young leaders, and others. The guarantee is a bold step making a commitment to all young people – with the investment necessary to bring our patchwork progress to scale,” said Johan Uvin, President of the Institute for Educational Leadership and former Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) at the U.S. Department of Education.

“Tennessee’s growing economy demands a strong workforce and the state has made great strides in connecting students to high-wage, high-demand careers through Tennessee Pathways. The success of the Mechatronics pathway is just one example of how students can earn stackable credentials and gain real world work experience leading to gainful employment in Rutherford County. The Youth Opportunity Guarantee takes the success of a program like this and extends the promise of hope to all youth nationwide,” said Beth Duffield, Senior Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce.

Recommendations for Achieving the Guarantee

Operationalizing the Youth Opportunity Guarantee requires a cross-sector community commitment, significant support from federal and state governments, and well-designed accountability systems. Among the actions suggested by GCPI:

  • State and local governments must work in partnership to scale up existing programs – with adequate funding – which at present levels cannot meet demand.
  • Communities must serve as the backbone, with local leaders and organizations collaborating across sectors to develop and refine programs that meet local needs.
  • Well-designed accountability systems must ensure access and quality of opportunities for youth.

To learn more about the Youth Opportunity Guarantee, read the full report.


About GCPI: The Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality (GCPI) works with policymakers, researchers, practitioners, advocates, and people with lived experience to develop effective policies and practices that alleviate poverty and inequality in the United States.

GCPI conducts research and analysis, develops policy and programmatic solutions, hosts convenings and events, and produces reports, briefs, and policy proposals. We develop and advance promising ideas and identify risks and harms of ineffective policies and practices, with a cross-cutting focus on racial and gender equity.

The work of GCPI is conducted by two teams: The Initiative on Gender Justice and Opportunity and the Economic Security and Opportunity Initiative.

The mission of the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality’s (GCPI) Economic Security and Opportunity Initiative (ESOI) is to expand economic inclusion in the United States through rigorous research, analysis, and ambitious ideas to improve programs and policies. Further information about GCPI’s ESOI is available at www.georgetownpoverty.org.