Only 51% of historically disadvantaged youth in the US receive a quality education and 40% of youth overall are disengaged in the classroom. This disparity is leaving millions with a lifetime of diminished opportunity.
Thankfully, there are over 60,000 out-of-school youth programs in the United States designed to fill much of the void. Programs such as coding boot camps, arts initiatives, writing workshops, and mentoring networks are instrumental in creating paths to academic and career success. Research shows incredible psychological, social and cognitive improvements for participants of youth programs. Low-income participants see particularly high gains as they decrease risky behaviors and make more successful transitions into adulthood.
What’s more, youth development programs produce gains that can be directly mapped to the employment characteristics firms are increasingly requiring. School systems are failing at developing creativity, problem solving skills, teamwork, communication abilities, and leadership skills while youth programs are demonstrating high gains in these areas.
Youth development programs are making impressive strides, but searching for a relevant one near a young peroson’s home or school is still nearly impossible. When the problem of access is addressed, it is done so at the individual level instead of the systems level. Only a small number of parents and teachers have the time and savvy to search for and recommend relevant programs to youth.
Torus will address this engagement gap by seamlessly granting millions of youth, aged 14-18, access to life-changing programs. We will give young people the power to explore interests and develop skills outside of formal schooling by connecting them to existing afterschool and summer programs. Our platform will recommend programs to youth based on interests, location, age, financial status, and more. Youth will apply to programs directly from our site and rate their experience at all steps, from application to participation, so programs can make data-driven improvements.
With inclusive access to out-of-school youth programming, Torus will catalyze improvements in youth behaviors and choices, college graduation rates, employment, and income.