Biden-Harris Administration Organizes Historic Youth Policy Summit, Fostering Opportunities

The first-ever interagency Youth Policy Summit, called “Cultivating Possibilities,” was hosted by the U.S. Department of Education today. Nearly 90 young people from across the nation participated in the summit, which was designed and planned in collaboration with youth. The purpose of the summit was to provide policymakers from federal agencies an opportunity to engage directly with young people and learn from each other about how to enhance policies and programs that support the well-being and success of all youth. The Biden-Harris Administration has been actively working with and delivering for young people on various fronts, such as mental health, cost of living, climate crisis, and student debt.

To ensure an ongoing dialogue with young people, the U.S. Department of Education will reconvene these youth participants and federal agencies virtually within the next six months. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona emphasized the importance of centering youth voices, stating, “Our nation’s youth are passionate and engaged, and they are raising their voices in their schools and advocating for critical issues that matter to them in their communities…”

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) is launching the Youth Apprentice Pathway Pilot, which aims to provide young people with a clear pathway into federal service at ETA. This pilot program aligns with ETA’s Youth Employment Works strategy, which focuses on creating high-quality career pathways to good jobs for young people. Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su highlighted the connection between well-being and employment opportunities, stating, “The Department of Labor is committed to delivering on President Biden’s commitment to support young people and expand access to opportunity…”

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra emphasized the importance of behavioral health and access to services and supports for young people. Becerra stated, “We know that behavioral health is health and that there should be ‘no wrong door’ to accessing services and supports. At HHS, we’re engaging our entire Department to transform how behavioral health is understood, accessed, treated, and integrated…”

The summit consisted of panel discussions that explored federal policies and programs related to adolescent developmental goals. These goals included well-being, belonging, purpose, identity and meaning-making, agency and decision-making, and leadership and contribution. Various youth-serving agencies and organizations participated in the discussions, along with speakers from relevant federal departments. Naomi Cruz Ortega, a participant in the summit, emphasized the importance of valuing the perspectives of young adults and their role in informing decision-makers.

To support the policy ideas and partnerships generated from the summit, the Funders for Adolescent Science Translation committed $600,000. These funds will be allocated for microgrants to support follow-up work and collaboration between the youth and organizations involved in the summit. Several philanthropic organizations, including The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Bezos Family Foundation, and The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, are among the funders.

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