Helping people with disabilities find their place in the workplace


Dedicated to improving the educational and labor market prospects for disconnected youth. Their goal is to provide policy makers and practitioners with the information they need to effectively implement strategies that will increase young people's learning and earning opportunities.

Their main activities include research and dissemination of studies and policy briefs; advocacy to expand the resources available to at-risk youth; and training, technical assistance, and capacity-building for youth policy makers and practitioners.

Social Policy Studies was organized in 1995 at the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), utilizing a bequest from the estate of Sar Levitan to the National Council on Employment Policy (NCEP) which, Sar had chaired. Upon his death in 1994, the Vice-Chair, Marion Pines assumed the chairmanship of NCEP and with the support of the Board of Directors, established the Levitan Center at Johns Hopkins IPS, where she is a Senior Fellow.

With the help and guidance of a national group of experts from the worlds of research, academia, practice and foundations, the major issues have been framed. This outstanding group of thinkers and doers started coming together in 1996 and is known as the Levitan Youth Policy Network. The framing issues that are most frequently discussed are:

  • what can we learn from demographic trends?
  • what are the labor market problems and prospects of out-of-school youth?
  • what do we know about what works?
  • how might a system of learning, work and support be organized?
  • what can be done to improve staff and program quality?
  • what are the appropriate roles for state and local elected officials, employers, educators, community-based organizations, program participants, etc?
  • where is the money?

Youth Program Principles

Service Principles
  • Ensure a continuity of contact with caring adults committed to their labor market success;
  • Emphasize the centrality of work and connections to employers;
  • Provide opportunities and encouragement for post secondary education;
  • Provide a variety of options for improving educational and skill competencies;
  • Offer a "hands-on" experiential training in areas of labor market growth and community rebuilding;
  • Guidance to finding jobs;
  • Guarantee on-going support through the first jobs, coupled with sustained efforts to improve skills;
  • Set-up incentives to improve and provide recognition of achievements;
  • Afford opportunities for leadership development, self-governance and decision-making;
  • Link young people with sources of external supports;
System's Principles
  • Seek to achieve an expanded school-to-work model for out-of-school youth that connects youth to jobs, education, resources and caring adults. A critical part of this expanded school-to-work model should include a public school system that offers flexible educational options that can reengage dropouts and link them to career pathways and post secondary educational opportunities.
  • Build on what exists; use the resources -- such as state and local school aid, federal Job Training Partnership Act funds, school-to-careers funds, one-stop careers resources, Pell Grants, TANF resources, juvenile justice funds, and other federal and state resources -- and the providers that currently exist in the community.
  • Utilize a community collaborative for leadership, planning, implementation and oversight. Make sure that effective community based organizations are partners in this collaborative.
  • Adopt a system of "home rooms" or community anchors that provide a specific neighborhood focus for outreach, referral and support.
  • Find and utilize an effective intermediary to work with both youth and the employer community that can both engage employers in a meaningful and efficient fashion and pull the parts of the system together so that it works as a seamless delivery mechanism.
  • Don't look to duplicate other system services or create stand-alone networks to employers. Coordinate and integrate with other systems whenever possible.




Did you know?

By 2020 it’s estimated that 15 million new jobs will require college preparation.

Source: Jobs Opportunities Task Force

Did you know?

This year, 860,000 men, women, and juveniles will be released from Federal, state, and local correctional facilities. Without intervention, over two-thirds of these individuals will be re-arrested for serious new felony offenses within three years.

(Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics and Public/Private Ventures)


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