As of 2019, in the U.S. there were about 4.4 million opportunity youth – young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market. (Due to the impacts of Covid-19 in 2020, it’s estimated that 6 million young adults were opportunity youth in 2020.) 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.
However, in the years since the peak of the 2008 recession, the number of opportunity youth has decreased dramatically, due to increased investment in this group and the hard work of communities across the United States.
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 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. Research shows that investment in opportunity youth collaboratives increases other public funding for young adults.
For more detailed data on the OYF network, its members’ capacities and systems change work, please see the most recent evaluation of the OYF network by Equal Measure: The Opportunity Youth Forum: Forging a National Network to Advance Equitable Systems Change.
Measure of America. A decade undone.
Civic Enterprises. The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth.