HuffPost What's Working Honor Roll: The Case For Not Giving Up On America's Troubled Teens

05/08/2015 11:14 am ET | Updated May 08, 2015

As journalists, we dutifully report on what's going wrong, from scandals and corruption to natural disasters and social problems. But far too often the media fails to show the whole picture, neglecting to tell the stories of what is working. From scientific breakthroughs to successful crime-reduction initiatives, the What’s Working Honor Roll highlights some of the best reporting and analysis, from a range of media outlets, on all the ways people are working toward solutions to some of our greatest challenges.


Despite the conventional wisdom, it is possible to reach and motivate troubled young people. That's what David L. Kirp conveys in a recent New York Times op-ed. There are currently some 5 million people ages 18-24 in the United States who are unemployed and lacking an educational foundation that can help them get ahead. Kirp, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, writes that while many people assume that "there’s little payoff in investing in troubled teenagers," this mentality could not be more wrong.

YouthBuild, for example, is a program for young people that provides them with education, guidance, job training and other skills. The program runs in 46 states and currently helps 10,000 teens and young adults. Many of these participants face steep challenges, from poverty to past criminal records.

YouthBuild gives America's troubled youth a second chance by giving them school and job training, while also creating a tight-knit support system and connecting them with potential mentors. Of the program's members, 77 percent go on to earn a high school diploma, G.E.D or other certificate and 61 percent go on to get jobs or pursue some form of higher education.

Along with YouthBuild, Kirp also highlighted several states that are ramping up their summer jobs programs in order to help troubled teens. In New York City and Chicago, internship and jobs initiatives have helped to cut crime rates and violence, lower the death rate and improve overall attendance.

"We must invest in programs that can turn things around for these kids," Kirp concludes.


If you know a story you think should be on our Honor Roll, please send an email to our editor Catherine Taibi via with the subject line "WHAT'S WORKING."

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