Cowen Institute Releases Opportunity Youth Data Guide


Cowen Institute News Release

For immediate release – March 12, 2015

Contact: Vincent Rossmeier, Director of Policy


Cowen Institute Releases Opportunity Youth Data Guide

Today, the Cowen Institute at Tulane University released Reconnecting Opportunity Youth: Data Reference Guide. The report, authored by Senior Policy Analyst Patrick Sims, is a comprehensive examination of opportunity youth at the national, state, and metropolitan levels from a cost and demographic perspective.

“This report provides a baseline for understanding who opportunity youth are both in New Orleans and nationally,” said Vincent Rossmeier, Director of Policy for the Cowen Institute. “Opportunity youth can truly be assets for their communities when they are reconnected to quality employment, educational, and training opportunities. Reconnection of this kind is the first step in ensuring opportunity youth persist on pathways to living-wage careers.”

Opportunity youth are young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither employed nor enrolled in school. These young adults are described as opportunity youth because of the potential value they could add to their communities if they are able to reconnect to education, employment, and civic opportunities.

Notably, the report found:

  • Of 16-24 years olds in the New Orleans metropolitan area, an estimated 18.2% are opportunity youth. This is significantly higher than the national rate of 13.8%.
  • More than 26,000 16-24 year olds in the New Orleans area are estimated to be opportunity youth. Nationally, there are 5.5 million opportunity youth.
  • New Orleans has the third highest estimated percentage of opportunity youth of any metropolitan area in the country, trailing only Memphis and Las Vegas.
  • Louisiana has the highest estimated percentage of opportunity youth in the country. Additionally, southern states, when compared to states on the west coast, east coast, and in the Midwest, have higher overall percentages of opportunity youth.

This report updates the first opportunity youth data guide the Cowen Institute published in 2012. A companion website can be found at

The mission of the Cowen Institute is to advance public education and youth success in New Orleans and beyond. Launched in 2007, we inform relevant stakeholders, decision makers, and the public at large on issues related to K-12 public education, opportunity youth, and college and career readiness. We promote the practical application of data and analysis to improve education and career pathways for youth. We also proactively develop, incubate, and operate innovative initiatives that support students and young adults. Based at Tulane University, a national research and regional anchor institution, we strive to positively impact our community and strengthen the local and regional economy.

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