Employment Pathways for Boys and Young Men of Color: Solutions and Strategies That Can Make a Difference


To lift children—particularly youth of color—out of poverty, they must have access to employment. Not only does employment help them learn about potential career paths and navigating workplace culture, young people also hone their communication, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills.

“Too often, low-income young men of color have very little opportunity to be exposed to various career paths, gain valuable work experience, and build employment history.”

“Discriminatory hiring practices, which are biased against people of color and individuals with criminal records, make finding legitimate work an uphill battle.”

“Poor and low-income youth are more likely to attend high-poverty schools with low graduation rates. These schools are inadequately resourced to provide students with the necessary instruction and course work and to prepare them for college,
well-paying jobs, and careers.”


  • Develop programs that teach young people social, communication, higher-order thinking, self-control, and positive self-concept skills.
  • Ensure young people earn a high school diploma and improve their educational attainment, so they can inoculate themselves against unemployment and increase their lifetime earnings.
  • Encourage employers to invest in youth jobs support. This investment can help young people amass employment experiences, competencies, references, and social and professional networks.
  • Reform discipline policies that disproportionately suspend and expel students of color from school. These policies can “push” youth out of school before they earn their high school diploma.