The Challenge

According to Measure of America study, Phoe­nix had an 18.8% rate of disconnection amongst youth ages 16-24. This compares to a national youth disconnection rate of 14.7%. Unemployment in Phoenix for they same group was 20.5%. The greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area was ranked number one for having the highest percentage of disconnected youth, out of the top 25 largest metropolitan areas in 2012 (Measure of America). According to a 2015 Morrison Institute Report, over 92,000 people between the ages of 16 and 24 in metro Phoenix who are neither working nor in school will have a cost taxpayers $27.3 billon over their lifetime and will have a lifetime social burden of $218.5 billion.

The Solution

Opportunities for Youth will address this challenge in the following ways:

  1. Build public support to help disconnected (opportunity) youth re-engage in school and work
  2. Build a system of support that ensures all youth-serving organizations serving this population have the principles, standards and processes that will help youth be successful
  3. Build a system of collaboration and alignment to avoid duplication and to effectively serve as many youth as possible

Collective Impact

Opportunities for Youth is approaching strategies and solutions through adopting the collective impact model. This model consists of cross-sector collaboration to solve challenging problems in the community. No single problem can be addressed in isolation. For large-scale social change to occur there needs to be a concerted effort of the existing players mobilized to take action. Collective Impact is organized around the following five components: 

  1. A common agenda, which is the common understand­ing of the problem and a shared vision for change
  2. Agreed upon shared measurements, which include collecting shared data and measuring results
  3. Mutually reinforcing activities, which consist of co­ordination and joint planning to reduce duplication and maximize effectiveness
  4. Continuous communication focused on building trust and maintaining consistent and open commu­nication
  5. A backbone entity that will coordinate and guide the collective efforts and provide support, resources and secure funding to help the initiative move forward in a collective manner.

Action Teams

Re-Engagement Center Action Team

Chair, Ernest Rose

Co-Chair, Tim Valencia

Re-engagement centers act as one-stop locations throughout the valley where youth can receive holistic supports and guidance to support their reconnection to school, work, and to the appropriate wrap-around services. These centers can come in the form of schools, non-profits, community centers, and more. Aspects of these centers include connecting youth to resources, conducting assessments, creating individualized plans, and conducting outreach to reach opportunity youth.

Educational Momentum Action Team

Chair, Ernest Rose

Co-Chair, Greg Donovan

Educational Momentum is a collective approach to supporting opportunity youth obtain their high school diploma, high school equivalency, and/or, post-secondary credentials. Educational Momentum seeks to develop and maintain an infrastructure of multiple pathways to graduation and re-entry and support systems to meet the unique needs of the youth throughout these milestones.

Career Connections Action Team

Chair, Randy Kimmens

Co-Chair, Cynthia Spell Tweh

Career Connections is a collaboration made up of industry, business, and education partners working to: increase employer awareness of OY barriers and the OFY initiative; create work sector pathway models tailored to the needs of opportunity youth; and develop partnerships with employers and industries willing to incorporate an opportunity youth hiring strategy.

Positive Youth Development Action Team

Chair, Donna McHenry

Co-Chair, Raul Daniels

Positive Youth Development ensures all systems touching youths' lives have policies, processes, and standards supports opportunity youth in successfully pursuing educational and career opportunities.