Joining the Opportunity Youth Forum

There are two pathways for joining the Opportunity Youth Forum (OYF) network:

  1. Funder-led
  2. Collaborative/community led


In the first instance, philanthropic partners initiate the inclusion of a new community into the OYF, by awarding the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions (FCS) resources to support the OYF learning network and a subgrant (or subgrants) to local collaboratives.

These subgrants are awarded to specific existing community collaboratives identified by the funder, or through a competitive RFP process (with RFPs designed by FCS in collaboration with the philanthropic partner or partners).


Community collaboratives can request inclusion into the OYF; in these cases, FCS partners with the backbone to identify potential funders and conducts fundraising activities to secure resources for the inclusion of the collaborative in the network.

The successful reconnection of these young people is ultimately a local issue – and requires community collaborations that effectively remove barriers, connect the many systems that touch their lives, and build and deepen education and employment pathways.

The sequence of activities in both processes for inclusion is flexible, depending on local context and variables, such as whether there is already collaborative infrastructure – including a backbone (lead intermediary) organization – and collective action/momentum in place, or if a new collaborative is being established. If there is not an existing collaborative in place, the FCS will partner with local stakeholders and philanthropy to assist in designing a process for backbone selection.


Participating communities and their philanthropic partners engage in the following ways:

  • Access to our twice annual Opportunity Youth Forum Convening, an opportunity to connect with national speakers and experts, and learn from other communities in the network.
  • Become eligible for funding opportunities from the Forum for Community Solutions for specific projects related to opportunity youth.
  • Access to annual evaluation data and reports, specific to your community.
  • Access to frequently updated Opportunity Youth Common Measures data, tailored to your community.
  • Access to an array of technical assistance providers, and multiple communities of practice.
  • The opportunity to have your community profiled in Aspen Institute reports.

Additionally, OYF communities are frequently profiled through different communications channels at FCS, which provides unique opportunities to share local work with the broader field on the national stage. (You can find out more about the Opportunity Youth Forum, and the current members here.)

To learn more about the process of joining the OYF, please refer to this comprehensive document.

For additional information about joining the OYF, please contact the FCS team at