Youth Transitions Task Force

The Youth Transitions Task Force (YTTF) is a cross-sector collective impact initiative comprised of a broad group of stakeholders—including the Boston Public Schools (BPS), community organizations, city departments, state agencies, and philanthropy – coming together to support at-risk students, with the goal of bringing the high school dropout rate to zero.

The Task Force has partnered with each BPS administration since 2004 in an effective effort – the number of dropouts has decreased from 1,827 (9.9% rate) in 2006 to 631 (4.2% rate) in 2019, pre-pandemic

The group meets monthly with the goal of increasing the visibility of dropout prevention and recovery by conducting research, making policy recommendations, and piloting innovative changes in practice. The PIC acts as the YTTF’s convener


In the fall of 2004, Boston was in crisis. More than 1,900 high school students dropped out of the Boston Public Schools (BPS) in school year 2005-06, going on to be at risk for lower employment rates, lower earnings, and higher rates of reliance on public assistance than their peers who earned a high school diploma.  In October of that year, the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC), with Mayor Thomas M. Menino, first convened the YTTF to lower the high school dropout rate and bring out-of-school youth and off-track students to the forefront of high school reform. With financial support from the Youth Transitions Funders Group, a coalition of national foundations, the YTTF went to work on raising the visibility of the dropout crisis by conducting research, making policy recommendations, and piloting innovative changes in practice.

Foundational Recommendations

The YTTF made six initial recommendations and has maintained those recommendations as the foundation of its research and advocacy work.


Refine dropout data collection and deepen the analysis.


Develop early intervention strategies and an outreach and referral system for dropouts.


Increase the number and variety of alternative education and training opportunities.


Create school climates that are welcoming and respectful.


Increase coordination among schools, alternative programs, and city agencies to close gaps.


Develop revenue strategies for alternative programs, early intervention, and outreach to dropouts.

Driven by a spirit of collaboration and a shared mission, the YTTF has seen tremendous success. Between 2004 and 2014, Boston’s dropout rate was cut in half while the graduation rate rose. In 2013, the number of dropouts per year dipped below 1,000 for the first time in recorded history.

Working with State Senator Edward Augustus, the Task Force helped the Dropout Prevention and Recovery Act pass in 2008, which formed a commission that published “Making the Connection:  A Report of the Dropout Prevention and Recovery and Graduation Commission” the next year.  Encouraged by these developments, the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) mobilized other urban districts to start organizing their own responses to the dropout crisis and the state lowered its dropout rate by over half between 2007 and 2014.

For more information about the Youth Transitions Task Force, contact Kathy Hamilton, Youth Transitions Director.