Today’s youth, especially those who are low-income or youth of color, face challenges staying in school, developing the skills and credentials required by employers, securing jobs, and thriving in the labor market. There are multiple causes for these issues, including persistent discrimination, structural racism, ineffective educational systems, and a changing labor market.

We need several strategies to address these challenges. One effort, Cities of LRNG, aims to address the “opportunity gap” for low-income youth and youth of color in cities by supporting expanded access to out-of-school learning opportunities, using digital badges to recognize and connect the learning that occurs in and out of school, and building connections across local learning ecosystems to open up college and career pathways for disadvantaged young people. This initiative is a project of Collective Shift, which was launched through the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, building off lessons learned from an earlier effort called Cities of Learning.

Since 2014, the Urban Institute has been a strategic adviser to the MacArthur Foundation on this project, providing guidance in local governance, data sharing, workforce development and evaluation. 


Employer Engagement in Summer Youth Employment Programs
October 3, 2019 report by Amanda Briggs, Natalie Spievack, and David C. Blount

The Youth Workforce: A Detailed Picture
July 2019 brief by Natalie Spievack and Nathan Sick

LRNG Logic Model

Realizing Employment Goals for Youth through Digital Badges: Lessons and Opportunities from Workforce Development
May 2016 report by Shayne Spaulding and Martha C. Johnson

Urban Wire Blog Posts

For People of Color, Employment Disparities Start Early
July 2019 post by Natalie Spievack

A Closer Look at Youth in 11 LRNG Partner Cities
May 2019 post by Semhar Gebrekristos and Amanda Briggs

Connecting learning to careers
July 2016 post by Hamutal Bernstein

How cities are expanding access to college and careers in the digital age
May 2016 post by Don Baylor


Badging the Future: Can Digital Credentials Create Pathways to Careers and College for Today’s Youth?
May 2016 event

Research Areas Race and equity Children and youth Workforce
Tags Job training
Policy Centers Income and Benefits Policy Center