Last week we were awarded an implementation grant from the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions for our Oakland-Alameda County Opportunity Youth Initiative. The focus of this local initiative is to connect Opportunity Youth (young people aged 16-24 years who are not in school nor employed) in Oakland-Alameda County to stabilization services, education and training, and employment services leading to family sustaining, career employment in the growth sectors of the East Bay economy.

According to the Aspen Institute, there are 6.7 million Opportunity Youth in America. In Alameda County, we estimate there are approximately 21,000 young people between 16 and 24 years of age, many who are boys and men of color, who aren’t in school and don’t have a job. Often times, they experience additional barriers and disconnection if they have been involved in the juvenile justice system and/or the child welfare system. The reality is that there is currently no system in place to reconnect these young people and support them in reaching their full potential to be successful in education and career employment. The Oakland-Alameda County Opportunity Youth Initiative will do just that –reconnect, reengage and reinvest in their futures.

Our goal is ambitious – to connect over 2,000 Opportunity Youth to education and career pathways over the next five years. This past year, we have convened a broad set of stakeholders from public agencies, the school district, the community colleges, workforce development and community-based organizations to develop a plan of action that identifies the outcomes for the project, the target populations, the career pathways and the strategies to better support these young people in order for them to be successful in pursuing education and career and employment opportunities.

We’re excited about receiving this implementation grant and the opportunity to continue collaborating with a network of partners that are working diligently to support and change the trajectory of Opportunity Youth in Oakland and Alameda County.

To learn more about the Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund, read the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions press release here.  To learn more about the local efforts and to see who is involved check our announcement post here.