This paper details the complexities of in- and out-of-school challenges encountered by off-track youth. It outlines the tremendous opportunity these students present for high school innovation. The authors maintain that schools appropriately designed can effectively meet the academic and nonacademic needs of over-age and under-credited students. The authors provide recommendations school design and systems modifications that can be implemented in either public charter or district alternative high schools. It is the authors’ position (and experience) that schools implementing these design elements maintain safe and healthy climates and cultures, content and effective staff, and most importantly –greater performance gains and improved life circumstances for their students.