Before Covid-19, The Opportunity Youth Forum (OYF) and other movement partners had successfully reduced the numbers of opportunity youth in the US. Given the impacts of the pandemic on disconnected youth, OYF and other partners have renewed our commitments, through a new 10 year plan to reduce OY numbers in half, by 2033.
Why Focus on Opportunity Youth?
As of 2021, in the U.S. there were about 4.7 million opportunity youth – young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market. Disconnection has serious impacts on the lives of young people.
In addition, many more young adults are at risk of being disconnected from school or work.
This disconnection has significant consequences, both for young people and our society.
In the years after the 2008 recession, the number of opportunity youth decreased dramatically, due to increased investment in this group and the hard work of communities across the United States.
The Role of the Opportunity Youth Forum
Part of this success story is the Opportunity Youth Forum (OYF), which has been working since 2012 to improve the success and well-being of youth through increased education and workforce attainment. The OYF is a network of place-based urban, suburban, rural and tribal community collaboratives, all working to improve outcomes for youth.
OYF member communities are leading the way in helping young adults attain important life outcomes, with a specific focus since the start on supporting young adults of color.
The OYF’s engagement of young adults results in big dividends for young people. and our whole society!
OYF collaboratives, which are proven to be successful through an independent evaluation, focus on improving local programs and changing the systems and policies that have an impact on the lives of young people. And research shows that investment in opportunity youth collaboratives increases other public funding for young adults.
Local Collaboratives Lead the Way
Evidence shows that strong local opportunity youth collaboratives are essential to making this progress happen. The Forum for Community Solutions, as the facilitator of the OYF, provides funding opportunities, convenings and other learning opportunities, data, research and evaluation support to OYF member sites.
OYF collaboratives bring together local communities to enhance programs and policy that ultimately lead to improved youth outcomes. Some recent success of local OY collaboratives includes:
For more detailed data on the OYF network, its members’ capacities and systems change work, please see the most recent evaluations of the OYF network by our independent evaluators, Equal Measure, and our work tracking youth outcomes, the OYF Common Measures.