Impact of the Opportunity Youth Forum

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.

one in nine youth are  disconnected

In addition, many more young adults are at risk of being disconnected from school or work.

3 in 9 youth are at risk of disconnection

This disconnection has significant consequences, both for young people and our society.

disconnection limits postsecondary completion

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.

the numbers of disconnected youth dropped 25%

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.

map of OYF communities across the US

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.

OYF focuses on youth of color

The OYF’s engagement of young adults results in big dividends for young people…

…and our whole society!

OYF's success has lead to $2 Billion in savings

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.

OYF works on changing systems

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.

Sources:

Measure of America. A decade undone.

Equal Measure. OYF 2019 evaluation report and  OYF 2017 evaluation report.

Civic Enterprises. The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth.