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July 9, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congressman Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor,Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment, and Jesús "Chuy" García (IL-04) introduced the Opening Doors for Youth Act(ODYA)— legislation to address the challenges facing youth who lose connection from both school and work. 

Researchers estimatethat there were 6 million young people, ages of 16-24, disconnected from both school and work in 2020. These young people, often referred to as “opportunity youth,” disproportionately come from disconnected communities, marked by poverty, racial segregation, high adult unemployment, and low adult educational attainment. Their communities often lack strong school systems, afterschool programs, access to professional networks, and an adequate supply of entry-level jobs for youth. As a result, far too many young people disconnect from school and work. Disconnection also imposes significant costs on affected young people, their communities, and the overall economy.

“Every young person deserves the support they need to excel in the classroom, in the workplace, and in life,” said Congressman Jones. “But too often, the people most in need of this support are those most deprived of it, entrenching generational cycles of poverty and disconnection. The Opening Doors for Youth Act will change that by connecting our young people to educational enrichment, workplace training, and community-based support. I’m proud to join Chairman Scott in introducing this important bill to help ensure every young person can reach their full potential.”

“It is our responsibility to ensure that all our nation’s young people have the opportunity to thrive—not just survive. The Opening Doors for Youth Act provides youth with a solid foundation of education and early work experience, as well as the skills they need to get on the path toward a good job and rewarding career. Investments made in youth employment programs not only provide youth across the country with their first jobs, but they also help employers build high-quality talent pipelines, and save our communities billions in spending down the road. I look forward to working with my Republican colleagues to ensure this legislation is included in the upcoming, bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act reauthorization,”said Chairman Scott.

“The past year has been tremendously harmful for millions of young Americans. According to a report from Bellwether Education Partners, between one to three million students stopped attending school during the pandemic. Disconnection from school or employment can have long-lasting consequences, which is why I am proud to join Chairman Bobby Scott in sponsoring the Opening Doors for Youth Act,” said Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee Chair Wilson.“This crucial legislation supports both summer and year-round employment for ‘opportunity youth,’ as well as community-based strategies to ensure that children remain on track to build successful and fulfilling careers.”

“Communities like mine have suffered from disinvestment for decades, and young people have suffered the most from this lack of opportunity. Youth employment is a crucial part of the community reinvestment we need to build back better,”said Congressman García. “I’m proud to join Chairman Scott in introducing this bill to improve existing youth jobs programs and promote economic justice for generations to come.”

The Opening Doors for Youth Act will help at-risk and opportunity youth gain their first employment opportunities and develop opportunities to successfully transition from school to work by:

  • Helping in-school youth access summer employment opportunities to remain connected to the education system and avoid involvement in the criminal and juvenile justice system;
  • Providing out-of-school youth with year-round work experiences and work-readiness skills that are vital to longer-term improved employment outcomes; and
  • Establishing or expanding youth employment programs through community-based organizations that provide at-risk and opportunity youth with comprehensive pathways to remain connected or reconnect to education and training systems, as well as the supportive services needed to overcome individual barriers to reconnection.

To read the bill text for Opening Doors for Youth Act, clickhere.

To read the fact sheet for Opening Doors for Youth Act, clickhere.

To read the section-by-section for Opening Doors for Youth Act, clickhere.

About Mondaire: Mondaire Jones is the 34-year-old Congressman from New York’s 17th District, serving Westchester and Rockland Counties. He serves on the House Judiciary, Education and Labor, and Ethics Committees and is the first openly gay, Black member of Congress. A product of East Ramapo public schools, Mondaire was raised in Section 8 housing and on food stamps in the Village of Spring Valley by a single mother who worked multiple jobs to provide for their family. He later graduated from Stanford University, worked at the Department of Justice during the Obama Administration, and graduated from Harvard Law School. He is a co-founder of the nonprofit Rising Leaders, Inc. and has previously served on the NAACP’s National Board of Directors and on the board of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Most recently, Mondaire worked as a litigator in the Westchester County Law Department. In November, Mondaire was unanimously elected by his colleagues to be the Freshman Representative to Leadership, making him the youngest member of the Democratic House leadership team. In December, Jones was appointed a Deputy Whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and became a Co-Chair of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus. Mondaire was born and raised in Rockland and resides in Westchester.