There are currently 5.5 million opportunity youth, defined as young people between the ages of 16 to 24 who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market.


These youth represent enormous potential for our nation’s economy. Investing in these young people will also have a ripple effect on future generations of low income children and families.

The successful reconnection of these young people requires community collaborations that effectively remove barriers, connect the many systems that touch their lives, and build and deepen education and employment pathways.  To this end, the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions and Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund was launched in July 2012 at the Aspen Institute. The Aspen Forum for Community Solutions is under the leadership of Melody C. Barnes, former Director of the Domestic Policy Council and Senior Advisor to President Obama. Stephen Patrick, who previously led disconnected youth work at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, serves as the Executive Director of the Aspen Forum.

The mission of the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions is to support community collaboration – including collective impact – that enables communities to effectively address their most pressing challenges. The Forum works to accomplish this mission by pursuing four complementary strategies including:

  1. building awareness by documenting and lifting up successful strategies and stories of success
  2. mobilizing stakeholders through knowledge and network development
  3. removing barriers by advocating for effective policy
  4. catalyzing investment by encouraging funder partnerships

The Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund is the first funding collaborative being developed and led by The Aspen Forum for Community Solutions.