Media Contacts:
Junious Williams
juniousw at urbanstrategies.org

(Oakland, CA) – July 29, 2014 – The Aspen Institute’s Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund (OYIF) has awarded a second round grant to Urban Strategies Council for the Oakland-Alameda County Opportunity Youth Initiative. The Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund is managed by the Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions and is dedicated to reconnecting “Opportunity Youth” to education and employment.

Opportunity Youth is a term used to describe the 6.7 million young people – between the ages of 16 to 24 in the United States – who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market. In Alameda County there are an estimated 21,000 Opportunity Youth and Young Adults.

“The results of the collective impact approach should encourage all sectors to evaluate their strategies beyond stand-alone efforts, as our experience has shown that working together with a common agenda, shared metrics, and strong coordination and communication across systems, can aggregate the impact of community actors,” said Melody C. Barnes, former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and Chair of the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions.

During the past year, the Oakland-Alameda County Opportunity Youth Initiative demonstrated early success by bringing together the K-12 systems; community colleges and other postsecondary providers; municipal and state governments; national and local philanthropy and nonprofits; and private sector and labor leaders in their communities, to design stabilization supports, education credentialing, and employment reconnection strategies for young people who have extraordinary barriers to success. Over the next five years, the local initiative will emphasize the re-engagement of young men of color 18 – 24 years old who have been involved in both the juvenile justice and child welfare system.  The Aspen Forum for Community Solutions will continue to engage with all OYIF grantees to gather data and facilitate the sharing of best practices, developing a roadmap of research, tools, and resources for other collective impact approaches.

“We believe that the Initiative will offer Opportunity Youth a pathway to family sustaining careers by providing the proper level and coordination of efforts among all of the non-profits and government agencies in the County,” said Alan Lessik, Executive Director of CiviCorps and member of the program planning committee for the Oakland-Alameda County Opportunity Youth Initiative.

Oakland-Alameda County Opportunity Youth Initiative:
The Oakland-Alameda County Opportunity Youth Initiative included representatives from:

Steering Committee   Program Committee
Alameda County Health Care Services Agency Alameda County Health Pipeline Partnership
Alameday Probation Department Beyond Emancipation
Alameda Social Services Agency Career Ladders Project
Alameda County Workforce Investment Board CiviCorps
California Labor Federation East Bay Asian Youth Center
City of Oakland, Department of Human Services East Bay Community Law Center
City of Oakland Workforce Investment Board First Place for Youth
Communities United for Restorative Justice Oakland Fund for Children and Youth
Contra Costa Community College District Oakland Private Industry Council
Laney College Youth Employment Partnership
Oakland Unified School District Youth Radio
Unity Council Youth SEED
Youth Uprising

The Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions and Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund builds on the work and recommendations of the White House Council for Community Solutions. The Forum is chaired by Melody C. Barnes, former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and run by Executive Director Steve Patrick. For more information, visit: AspenCommunitySolutions.org

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.