$1.6 Million Awarded to Support Scaling Evidence-based Pathways for Opportunity Youth


This month, with support from JPMorgan Chase and additional funders, including Prudential Financial and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions (AIFCS), a program of the Aspen Institute, awarded $1.6 million to innovative community collaboratives that seek to dramatically reduce the number of opportunity youth in communities across the country by scaling evidence-based, high quality pathways to postsecondary completion and careers.

Opportunity youth is a term used to describe the young people ages 16-24 who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic there were 4.5 million opportunity youth in the United States; some estimate that this number has doubled to approximately 9 million disconnected young adults due to the economic impacts of the pandemic. A disproportionate number of opportunity youth are young people of color.

Eight community grantees will receive grants of up to $300,000 per year under the Building Ecosystems for Youth Opportunity (BEYO) portfolio to support deepening and scaling pathways that improve postsecondary and career success of opportunity youth, while at the same time strengthening local systems to support this population more effectively, thereby expanding economic mobility for low-income young people and significantly reducing the number of opportunity youth in these communities.

This effort builds on the success of the first phase of collaboration between JPMorgan Chase and AIFCS, which included financial support and technical assistance to help 11 cities map local opportunity youth reconnection pathways and design plans for scaling the most promising pathways with potential to reach a large number of youth and young adults not connected to school or work. The total amount of direct community investment for the initiative is $1.6 million.

“Access to good career opportunities in young adulthood contributes to economic mobility for many Americans but remains out of reach for too many youth across the country” said Linda M. Rodríguez, Executive Director, Global Philanthropy. “JPMorgan Chase is committed to helping people in underserved communities build skills, gain work experience, and develop professional networks that can set them on the path to promising career pathways.”

JPMorgan Chase support for this effort is part of its $350 million, five-year commitment to prepare people for the future of work and builds on collaborations with other organizations like YouthBuild and LeadersUp to connect people who are not in the labor market or education system access the skills they need to access stable career pathways at the workplace of the future.

The effort also incorporates insights from a previous investment from the Ballmer Group Philanthropy and leverages additional investments from Prudential Financial and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, to help support the work in Newark, NJ and New Orleans, LA, respectively.

The grantees include:

  • Austin, TX: Workforce Solutions Capital Area (Austin Opportunity Youth Collaborative)
  • Boston, MA: Boston Private Industry Council & Boston Opportunity Agenda (Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative)
  • Chicago, IL: Thrive Chicago
  • Houston, TX: Alliance of Community Assistance Ministries (Greater Houston Opportunity Youth Collaborative)
  • Los Angeles, CA: Alliance for Children’s Rights (Los Angeles Opportunity Youth Collaborative)
  • Newark, NJ: YouthBuild Newark (Newark Opportunity Youth Network)
  • New Orleans, LA: New Orleans Youth Alliance & New Orleans Business Alliance
  • San Antonio, TX: City of San Antonio (NXT Level Youth Opportunity Center)

AIFCS is grateful to our funder partners for investing in scaling of pathways and improved outcomes for opportunity youth.