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Councilwoman Laura Pastor’s Youth Engagement Summit Takes on Needs of Disconnected YouthCouncilwoman Laura Pastor’s Youth Engagement Summit Takes on Needs of Disconnected Youth<div class="ExternalClassFC67B30B504C4049AFF8C7A11D89B03E"><div>​Councilwoman Laura Pastor capped off a months-long youth outreach effort Tuesday, March 22 at the Youth Engagement Summit at Phoenix College. The summit was part of an ongoing effort to create long-term strategies to address youth disconnection by building meaningful pathways between communities and both education and employment opportunities.<br><br>Since late winter, Councilwoman Pastor has conducted focus groups and survey research with students from Phoenix Union High School District and several local community-based organizations serving disengaged youth. They worked to identify the biggest challenges facing local teens and young adults and the biggest barriers to students looking to engage in constructive programs and activities. In total, more than 380 students participated in this survey process. The Youth Engagement Summit was an opportunity to share the research results with a broader group of young adults and get additional feedback.<br><br>“Our long-term prosperity depends on getting disconnected youth tied to resources to prepare them for employment or higher education,” Councilwoman Pastor said. “We have particular challenges in Phoenix, but we’re focused on finding solutions and identifying resources for productive futures."<br><br>Students identified drug use, bullying, teen pregnancy and teen suicide as the top four issues facing youth in their community. They cited home responsibilities, school involvement, transportation and access as the top barriers keeping youth from participating in activities. Their top five suggestions for programs and activities were sports activities, free Wi-Fi, teen activities and events such as dances and trips, and a mobile activity unit.<br><br>Nationally, one in seven young adults between the ages of 16-24 does not work or attend school according to Measure of America (2012). Phoenix currently leads the nation in disconnected youth, with more than 45,000 teens and young adults (one in five) neither working nor in school. The African American and Native American communities have the highest rates (28 percent), and nearly 24 percent of Latino youth are disconnected. <br><br>The Arizona graduation rate is 75.7 percent, and is approximately 17 percent lower in Phoenix. The Phoenix youth unemployment rate for this age group is more than 20 percent. Research suggests that Phoenix’s higher disconnection rate is due to low academic attainment rates, fewer opportunities for youth employment and training, and fewer options for improving quality of life through recreational activities.<br><br>In addition to her work on the summit, Councilwoman Pastor has joined Vice Mayor Kate Gallego to co-chair the City of Phoenix’s My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative. The MBK initiative has three areas of focus: education, being employed, and being safe from violent crime.<br><br>“The overarching goal of the MBK initiative is to connect your potential and dreams to opportunities and resources,” Vice Mayor Gallego explained Tuesday to youth summit attendees. “With your input, we can better serve you and make our My Brother’s Keeper efforts more effective for you.”</div></div>3/23/2016 5:00:00 PMDavid Urbinato602-495-5405