Guiding Young People Not to Colleges or Careers — But to Good Lives

Who are you?

If you saw this question on a government form, you’d likely respond in a practical fashion, checking boxes about how the world perceives you. Where were you born? What’s your family’s income? What’s your race? Did your parents—even your grandparents—graduate from college?

They’re answers that, when it comes to education and work and success, don’t always seem to matter—but maybe should.

“We should not be designing programs and interventions without the direct input of young people,” says Allison Gerber, director of employment, education and training at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a philanthropy based in Baltimore that makes grants to expand education and skills-training for youth and adults. “The more engagement and ownership young people have in the entire thing, the more likely it will meet their needs, they’ll want to stay, feel a sense of belonging, and it will be attractive to them and their peers.”

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