Progress in the Opportunity Youth Forum Communities
The ultimate goal of our opportunity youth-focused work is to support equitable policy changes, including the development of multiple pathways aimed at improving education and employment outcomes for young people, that align with their vision for self, family and community.
We work in partnership with young people and a broad national network of organizations with the aim to reconnect 1 million youth to pathways with economic security. We focus on finding out what works and what does not work to improve practice and outcomes in communities across the country. We work with independent evaluators Equal Measure to help us and our partners understand where progress is happening and where more work is necessary to improve outcomes for opportunity youth.
Our most recent evaluation report (2018) looks at progress across the initial 21 sites in the Opportunity Youth Forum network. The independent evaluation, done by Equal Measure, provides information on progress from baseline year data collection across the Opportunity Youth Forum.
The Year Three Implementation Report identifies key findings from across the network, including:
- Collaboratives have developed strong partnerships driven by deep partner commitment to carrying out and sustaining the opportunity youth agenda.
- Communities are seeing a shift in attitudes about opportunity youth and the systems that support them, evidenced by increased attention to opportunity youth needs and assets.
- Nearly all collaboratives have created pilot programs to address gaps in services for opportunity youth, while more than two-thirds have broadened their reach by scaling pilot or existing programs.
We work in partnership with young people and a broad national network of organizations with the aim to reconnect 1 million youth to pathways with economic security. We focus on finding out what works and what does not work to improve practice and outcomes in communities across the country.
A particularly strong area of findings is around creating changes in local systems and policies. Per the evaluation report, “Collaboratives are showing promise toward important policy wins, having engaged key civic and institutional leaders; implemented organizational changes to better support opportunity youth; and had some success influencing public policy.” Specific, measurable gains include:
- Public officials have joined the community collaboratives – up 43% points in one year — and more of them are speaking out on opportunity youth issues – up 23% points in one year.
- Systems are getting more efficient and effective – repetitive/inefficient processes were reduced 23% points in one year.
Additionally, equity is incredibly important in our work as young people of color are over-represented in the total numbers of opportunity youth at the national level. We are pleased to report that 89% of the young adults in service delivery pilots across the 21 sites, are people of color.
Equal Measure has also identified six key barriers that hinder progress for communities working on behalf of opportunity youth, including: organizational (and systems) silos; financial constraints; and disconnected educational offerings, to name just a few.
The full list of barriers, more indicators and data on progress, and more on the impressively quick successes of many collaboratives shifting local systems, is covered in the full report.