Opportunities for Youth Initiative charts progress months after last Disconnected Youth Summit
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Opportunities for Youth Initiative charts progress months after last summit

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  • Laurie King/Maricopa County Education Service Agency

Opportunities For Youth Initiative

It has been nine months since the last Disconnected Youth Summit. Your support and engagement started something powerful that has taken hold and is creating hope for the disconnected youth in our community through the Opportunities for Youth Initiative.

Below are the highlights of what has happened over the past nine months:

1. We Established A Collective Impact Approach


To learn more about Collective Impact play this video.

We heard from the Disconnected Youth Summits that we should use a Collective Impact model to leverage the work that is already happening. We assembled a group of leaders identified at the second Disconnected Youth Summit and created the Opportunities for Youth Initiative.

Opportunities for Youth Initiative charts progress months after last summit Opportunities-for-Youth-InitiativeBased on the research and recommendations of current Collective Impact practices, we put the following five components into action:

  1. A common agenda, which is the common understanding of the problem and a shared vision for change;
  2. Agreed upon shared measurements, which include collecting shared data and measuring results;
  3. Mutually reinforcing activities, which consist of coordination and joint planning to reduce duplication and maximize effectiveness;
  4. Continuous communication focused on building trust and maintaining consistent and open communication;
  5. A backbone entity that will coordinate and guide the collective efforts and provide support, resources and secure funding to help the initiative move forward in a collective manner.

2. We Collectively Created A Common Agenda


Guided by a common and unifying framework established during the Disconnected Youth Summits, we agreed upon creating opportunities for youth through four critical and integrated pathways:

  1. Re-Engagement Centers
  2. Educational Momentum
  3. Career Connections
  4. Positive Youth Development

3. We Identified A Board Of Directors


The Opportunities for Youth Initiative is led by a Board of Directors that guides the vision and structure of the initiative. The Board is currently comprised of 37 leaders representing the state of Arizona, Maricopa County and local entities. Membership background is diverse and ranges from non-profits, government, K-12 education, higher education, behavioral health, elected officials, juvenile justice.

4. The Board Of Directors Chose The Backbone Organization


At the May 15th Board of Directors meeting, MCESA and Tri-Caucus proposed a hybrid backbone model for the Board’s approval. The Board approved this proposal and named MCESA and Tri-Caucus the backbone for the Opportunities for Youth Initiative. Backbone staff will include an Executive Director, Data Analyst, Policy Analyst, and Communication Coordinator.

What’s Next And How You Can Stay Involved:


1. We Are Seeking Funding


The backbone is working to secure funding for the backbone scope of work and funding to support partner agencies working to advance the common agenda of the Initiative through their programs. MCESA is pursuing grant opportunities and has applied to host three Public Allies to assist backbone staff with identifying and reaching out to opportunity youth throughout the valley.

2. We Are Establishing Action Teams

Official Opportunities for Youth action teams will be developed once the Board of Directors has formally adopted Initiative goals and shared measures. The action teams will be organized around the four pathways: Re-engagement Centers, Educational Momentum, Career Connections, and Positive Youth Development. The action teams will be comprised of experts working in the field and who wish to help develop strategic plans to re-engage opportunity youth. These teams will also measure progress of their pathway through collected data. More information on how to join an Action Team will be sent out in the upcoming months.

3. We Need To Continue To Hear Your Voice


Please take this short survey

Other activities for opportunity youth


Year Up Arizona has 80 internships available for students who can start class next month. We still have a few seats remaining and need help in finding potential students. Please let me take a few moments of your time to provide information about Year Up and how you can help. 

About Year Up
Year Up connects young adults who need opportunity with companies who need their talent.  The twelve-month program is offered at no cost to students, in fact they’re paid a weekly stipend, allowing them to earn while they learn. Here’s how it works:

  1. We talk with companies to understand the skills they need but struggle to find
  2. Young adults spend six months in the classroom learning the skills employers are looking for (including soft skills)
  3. Students who complete their classroom experience are guaranteed six month internships with one of our partner companies, applying skills and gaining critical work experience. Today our young adults are at American Express, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and more.
  4. Young adults graduate ready to launch a meaningful career – 85% will work or enroll in school full time within four months of completing our program.

How to Help
We have 80 internships available to students who start class next month.

Do you have 1-2 young adults or student who would qualify for Year Up (18-24 yrs, high school diploma or GED)?

Would you be willing to personally connect us to those in your organization in direct service capacity, such as case workers or career counselors? Please consider passing this request on to those in your organization.

Learn more @Year Up:
Earn While You Learn (student flier, English and Spanish)

Year Up and the Opportunity Divide –  https://youtu.be/sZiPqqYmxdo

Year Up on 60 Minutes – http://www.yearup.org/press/year-up-on-60-minutes/

For additional information, please contact Kim Owens, Executive Director of  Year Up – Arizona at 602.483.1442 (office) or 480.773.4262 (mobile).
Video: What is the Opportunity Divide?