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Mayor Stanton calls on community to help disconnected youth

PHOENIX — A Valley mayor is worried about young people who may not have found their place in society.

A report for the Mayor’s Education Roundtable had more than 45,000 young people in Phoenix are so-called “disconnected youth.”

“Disconnected youth means young people, 16 to 24 years of age, who are either not currently enrolled in school or not working,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “Sadly, our region, not just the city of Phoenix but the entire region, has the highest percentage of disconnected youth.”

The report said as of 2012 22 percent of Arizona’s 825,300 residents between 16 and 24 years old are “disconnected youth.”

There are a couple of different reasons for this.

“The economy was hit so bad here, and our dropout rate is too high,” he said.

The city is going to do something to help disconnected young people.

“Working with Don Covey and the Maricopa County Educational Services Agency, we are going to create reengagement centers,” the Mayor said. “These are physical places where either these young people, their family, their friends, their loved ones can go to learn about employee opportunities and educational programs to draw them back in.”

It is not known when these centers will open.

Valley businesses will also get involved if Stanton gets his wish.

“I’m calling on the business community, and the community as a whole, to come up with plans and programs so that we can draw those youth back into productive activity,” Stanton said.

Starbucks has already stepped up to the plate. A “Disconnected Youth” town hall that drew 20 people to a local Starbucks was recently held.

“Some disconnected youth showed up, and Starbucks gave them a job,” Stanton said. “It was a small but important win.”

Something Stanton would like to see more of.