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Who are Opportunity Youth?

Nationwide there are 5.5 million young people, ages 16-24, who are neither in school or working, and 700,000 in California, with 20,000 residing in Alameda County.

Failing to re-connect these youth is failing our community on many levels. The direct cost to taxpayers for public benefit dollars is estimated at $13,980 per year, and $235k over a lifetime.

If they are not in school, not working…There’s a greater possibility of falling into the public safety area, or having deteriorating health. This can have a destabilizing effect on families and a big community cost, so it’s much better to dedicate resources to the pipeline of cradle to career.
Keith Carson, Alameda County Board of Supervisors, District 5

What are we trying to accomplish?

The Oakland-Alameda County OYI aims to serve all Opportunity Youth, 18-24 year olds who are out of school and out of work, with a specific focus on young men of color who have experienced the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.  Our hope is that by working closely with the community partners, public agencies and the private sector, we will learn what works, align everyone’s efforts, and bolster the impact of cross-sector partners to be able to build the infrastructure for Opportunity Youth and all individuals with barriers to employment.

Building an effective infrastructure requires not only a clear articulation and strengthening of existing educational and career pathways but also the creation of viable alternative pathways that also lead to family sustaining wages.

OYI: Using a Collective Impact Approach

The Opportunity Youth Initiative (OYI) brings together more than 45 partner organizations representing public agencies, community-based organizations, employers, school districts, and community colleges and the youth themselves on a common agenda to create pathways to education and careers for the 20,000 Opportunity Youth in the county.

Guided by a collective impact approach, the OYI has developed a set of strategies to connect youth with employment in family-sustaining careers.  The OYI partner organizations co-created an action plan to produce results and have made a commitment with public accountability to share data, to continuously communicate and to align resources and activities. The Urban Strategies Council is providing the backbone support for the initiative, and is one of 6 sites in California and 23 nationwide participating in the Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund sponsored by the Aspen Institute.

More people are understanding that it takes a lot to bring these young people out of the shadows, it’s not up to one agency or system, it really requires collective action across a wide range of sectors.
Marc Philpart, Director, PolicyLink

Projects:

Re-Engagement Center Network

We have created a Re-Engagement Center Network (RECN) that combines the experience and geographical coverage of several community based organizations that re-engage Opportunity Youth through transformative employment, education and stabilization services.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Careers Workgroup and Learning Community

We convene cross-sector stakeholders focused on improving employment outcomes in the ICT sector for underrepresented populations and individuals with barriers to employment in ICT. This group serves as the supply side representative group in the East Bay ICT Slingshot Initiative and is working towards improved systems connection and coordinated employer engagement with the intention of scaling services to meet the needs of both the population and the employers.

Direct Connect to Community College Project

We lead a collaboration between community-based organizations, alternative education, and local community colleges to support Opportunity Youth in enrolling and graduating from a career technical education program or transferring to a 4 year college.

Partners:

  • Unity Council, Latino Men and Boys Program
  • Community United for Restorative Youth Justice
  • Youth UpRising
  • Berkeley Youth Alternatives
  • Hayward Adult School
  • East Bay Community Services/La Familia Counseling Services
  • REACH Ashland Youth Center
  • Youth Radio
  • Civicorps
  • Youth Employment Partnership
  • United Way of The Bay Area
  • First Place for Youth
  • East Bay Asian Youth Center
  • Alameda Family Services
  • Beyond Emancipation
  • East Bay Community Law Center Center
  • Career Ladders Project
  • East Bay Community Foundation
  • Alameda County Probation Department
  • Alameda County Health Care Services Agency
  • Alameda Social Services Agency
  • Alameda County Public Health Department
  • Alameda County Health Care Services Agency
  • Alameda County Office of Education
  • Alameda County WIB
  • Oakland WIB
  • Oakland Unified School District
  • City of Oakland, Department of Human Services
  • Laney College
  • Contra Costa Community College District
  • Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
  • East Bay Economic Development Agency