The Opportunity Youth Forum (OYF) is a network comprised of over forty local collaborations in urban, rural, and tribal communities across the United States that seeks to build and scale reconnection pathways that achieve better outcomes in education, employment and overall well-being for opportunity youth. Opportunity youth are young adults, 16-24 years of age, who are engaged in neither work nor education. There are currently at least 5 million such young people in the US, and their lack of access to education and work comes at great personal cost to themselves, as well as long term social and economic costs to all of society.
All told, nearly a million opportunity youth live in Opportunity Youth Forum communities. These communities reach from Seattle to Greenville, MS, and from New York City to the Hopi Tribe; and from Southern Maine to Hawai’i.
From the movement and OYF launch, in 2012, the number of opportunity youth dropped by over 1 million nationally by 2019, thanks to the efforts of many organizations, leaders and young people, proving that change is possible through concerted, multi-level efforts. Read more about the impact of OYF.
Over the next 10 years, OYF’s goal, a part the national OY movement goal, is to reduce the incidence of youth disconnection by 50% in OYF communities – or a reduction of 500,000 opportunity youth – and to make sure that opportunities for youth are more equitably available.
To create this impact, OYF makes change happen at the national, state, and local levels:
- At the national level, OYF helped to found the Opportunity Youth Network, a collaboration of many national OY-focused intermediaries, that focuses on policy change. We also support Opportunity Youth United, a youth-led advocacy initiative and other national advocacy efforts.
- At the state level, OYF is helping to grow state policy change movements (such as in California and Texas).
- For local collaboratives, OYF provides a variety of funding opportunities, technical assistance programs, twice annual convenings and other learning opportunities, and data and assessment support.
OYF has a particular focus on taking local action. We focus here because we believe in a future where communities self-determine their own vibrant and lasting solutions to the social and economic problems that they face. To accomplish that, OYF promotes collaborative, community-based efforts that build the power and influence of those with the least access to opportunity.
Aspen supports OYF member communities by providing the following types of assistance:
- Learning: 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.
- Funding: Become eligible for special funding, raised by the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions from an array of national and regional funders, for specific projects related to opportunity youth; current and past examples include:
- Evaluation: Access to annual evaluation data and reports, specific to your community.
- Data: Access to frequently updated Opportunity Youth Common Measures data, tailored to your community.
- Technical Assistance: Access to an array of technical assistance providers, and multiple communities of practice.
- Promotion: Have your work showcased in Aspen Institute reports.
In addition to hundreds of local funders supporting the work, more than 40 national and regional funders are also devoting significant resources to the Forum for Community Solutions’ Opportunity Youth Forum: Andrus Family Fund, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Ballmer Group, Bank of America, Best Buy, Bezos Family Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Boeing Company Charitable Trust, The Boston Foundation, The California Endowment, Casey Family Programs, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Citi Foundation, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Corporation for National and Community Service, Social Innovation Fund (SIF), Ford Foundation, The Gap Foundation, Google, Greater Texas Foundation, Helios Education Foundation, Hyams Foundation, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, James Irvine Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, John T. Gorman Foundation, Joyce Foundation, The JPB Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Lumina Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation, Nancy & Miles Rubin, Prudential Foundation, Raikes Foundation, REI, Rise BMOC, Rockefeller Foundation, Schultz Family Foundation, Seattle Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Starbucks, United Way of King County, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Wal-Mart Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.