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Report Highlights the Severe Economic Losses When Young People Do Not Complete High School or They Disconnect from School and Work

Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable’s 2018 Dashboard Report Shows Economic Loss to Arizona Could Exceed $96 Billion

PHOENIX – April 5, 2018 – Today, the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable released its new Education Dashboards report, which profiles the estimated lifetime economic losses that result from high school non-completion and youth disconnection in 15 cities and towns across Arizona.

“The prosperity of Arizona’s cities and towns is dependent, in large part, on youth receiving the education and supports they need to contribute to their communities,” says Paul Koehler, director of the Policy Center at WestEd, a national nonprofit education research, development, and service agency that convenes the Roundtable. “Unfortunately,” Koehler adds, “many youth face diminished prospects for their futures as a result of their academic outcomes. This hurts them as well as the state.”

The report, drawing on input from each mayor in the Roundtable and on data from the Arizona Department of Education and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, uses high-school non-completion and youth disconnection rates to highlight the economic importance of ensuring that young people remain engaged in school and the workforce.

The dashboard’s non-completion rates show the percentage of students in a school cohort who did not graduate on time (that is, within four years). Each young person who does not complete high school represents a potential $498,920 estimated lifetime loss for Arizona due to a combination of effects such as lost earnings, higher rates of criminal activity, increased reliance on government assistance, poorer health outcomes, and lost productivity. Based on the 18,460 non-completers in the class of 2015, the total estimated loss to the state would amount to $9.2 billion.

Disconnected youth—young people aged 16-24 who are neither in school nor working—also have a stark economic impact on their communities. In 2015, there were 830,000 youth aged 16-24 in Arizona. Data suggest that 14.6 percent—or 125,850—of youth in this population were disconnected. At this rate, youth disconnection would result in an estimated lifetime economic loss of $96.4 billion to Arizona.

“School and work are both central to our youth attaining the skills and resources they need to be successful in their lives,” said Koehler. “This report highlights the need for Arizona’s cities and towns to provide all of our young people with those opportunities to brighten their own futures and, in so doing, strengthen the economic development of the state.”

“Helios Education Foundation is proud to partner with WestEd on the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO, Helios Education Foundation. “The Roundtable is providing opportunities for increased collaboration and partnership among the cities and helping to elevate important educational issues that impact our state.”


About the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable

The Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable, an initiative of Helios Education Foundation and WestEd, brings together mayors of Arizona’s larger cities, district superintendents, and their key staff to share data, evidence-based and promising practices, and programmatic strategies that can help address local challenges affecting students’ educational and career choices.  The Roundtable is convened by WestEd, with primary funding from Helios Education Foundation and additional support from Pearson, America’s Promise Alliance, and the Arizona Community Foundation.


About WestEd
WestEd is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research, development, and service agency that works with education and other communities throughout the United States and abroad to promote excellence, achieve equity, and improve learning for children, youth, and adults. Agency headquarters are in San Francisco.


About Helios Education Foundation

Helios Education Foundation is dedicated to creating opportunities for individuals in Arizona and Florida to achieve a postsecondary education. The Foundation’s work is driven by four fundamental beliefs in Community, Investment, Equity, and Partnership.  Helios invests in programs and initiatives across the full education continuum – from early grade success through postsecondary education.  In Arizona, where Latino students comprise the largest percentage of the K-12 public school population, the Foundation is implementing its Arizona Latino Student Success initiative focused on preparing all students – especially students in high poverty, underserved Latino communities – for success.  Through Helios’ Florida Regional Student Success Initiative, the Foundation is helping underserved, minority, first-generation students from the state’s large population centers in of Miami, Orlando and Tampa achieve a postsecondary education. Since 2006, the Foundation has invested more than $200 million in education programs and initiatives in both states. To learn more about Helios, visit www.helios.org.

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