Press Release: Aspen Forum for Community Solutions and Jobs for the Future Receive $6 Million Federal Investment to Create Second Chances for Opportunity Youth


Working with 12 Communities to Reconnect Young People to Education and the Workforce


September 22, 2014, WASHINGTON DC – The Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund (SIF) announced last week that Jobs for the Future, in partnership with the Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions, received $6 million in funding, the result of a highly competitive open grant competition. The investment, announced at the SIF’s Annual Grantee Convening in Washington DC, will be used to help local communities improve education and employment outcomes for opportunity youth, defined as young people ages 16-24 who are disconnected from education and work.

Five years into the program launched by President Obama in 2009, the Social Innovation Fund and its non-federal partners have committed to invest more than $700 million in effective community solutions. Including the grants announced this week, the SIF portfolio now represents a $229.3 million federal investment, and is expected to leverage more than $540 million in non-federal match commitments. This will include a $6 million match commitment that is being raised by Aspen Forum for Community Solutions and JFF.

Across the U.S., some 6.7 million opportunity youth are neither in school or the workforce, costing our country an estimated $250 billion annually in lost revenue, earnings, and increased social services. Working with the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions’ Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund (OYIF), JFF will partner with up to 12 communities that are bringing together local stakeholders—K-12 systems, colleges, employers, community organizations—to collaborate across systems and build education and career pathways for unemployed or underemployed young people.

“These young people—disproportionately youth of color—face a range of challenges that limit their connection to education and employment; the impact is multi-generational, experienced by both the youth and their families. It’s also a huge challenge for their communities and local economies, and the nation at large” said JFF CEO Marlene Seltzer. “The Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions launched the OYIF two years ago to address the challenges this population faces through strong cross-sector, collective impact efforts. Our SIF initiative will build off of this robust partnership to develop the evidence base for on-ramps and pathways for opportunity youth—especially for boys and men of color.”

“We’re honored to receive this investment,” said Melody Barnes, Chair of the Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions. “From California to Maine, our grantee communities are changing the way cities and towns reengage young people who too frequently go unnoticed. Because of the SIF funding, we can further develop the collective impact approach to improve education and employment outcomes for opportunity youth.”

“We are excited about this new class of Social Innovation Fund grantees because they are among the most cutting edge grantmakers in social innovation,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.  “The investment in these organizations will not only bolster local programs’ capacity to serve more individuals in need, but also provide communities with programs that work.”

In the next several months, JFF and the OYIF will conduct a process to select up to 12 communities to receive three year grants of between $175,000 and $350,000 per year. These communities will work with JFF and the OYIF to design rigorous evaluation plans that will increase levels of evidence and lead to replicable models and meaningful lessons for the broader social sector.


Jobs for the Future works to ensure that all lower-income young people and workers have the skills and credentials needed to succeed in our economy, by creating solutions that catalyze change in our education and workforce delivery systems.  Working with our partners, JFF designs and drives the adoption of innovative and scalable education and career pathways leading from college readiness to career advancement. For more information, visit:

The Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions and Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund builds on the work and recommendations of the White House Council for Community Solutions. The Forum is chaired by Melody C. Barnes, former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and run by Executive Director Steve Patrick and Deputy Director, Monique Miles. For more information,

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service and champions community solutions through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit