Letter to the editor // Invest in youth

It costs each of us when a kid drops out of high school. A cost savings solution is community-based youth intervention programs. These programs are putting kids on the road to becoming productive tax paying community members as adults. Economists in Minnesota have estimated a $5 return on investment for each dollar spent on a community-based youth intervention program. This leaves those of us involved in youth intervention work scratching our heads and wondering why our programs are facing cuts.

A high school dropout receives more than $71,000 in cash or other benefits from the public sector than what they pay in taxes over their working lifetime, as estimated by Andrew Sum an economist from Northeastern University in Chicago using U.S. census data. His study also showed that when a kid graduates from high school, he/she pays $236,000 more in taxes than benefits received over their working lifetime.
It is even more when a kid graduates from college.  

At an average cost of $2,000 per year per kid, community-based youth intervention programs provide kids with the additional support they sometimes need to graduate from high school and be ready for college or the work force.  

I work at The Conflict Resolution Center in Minneapolis. We work with elementary, middle and high schools to provide in school mediations that serve as an alternative to the traditional disciplinary methods routinely used by schools. Through the use of in-school mediation we hope to increase the amount of time kids are in class, while also working with students to prevent and deescalate conflict. We see the results. CRC’s outcomes during the 2010–2011 school year demonstrate that the community has benefited by keeping some of the most at-risk MPS students from dropping out or being suspended from school.  

The more kids we work with in well run cost effective community-based programs the better off our kids and communities will be. Youth intervention works, it saves money and we need more of it — not less.

Sam Gran, Downtown