Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund Supporting Progress, Evaluation Finds

The  Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions' Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund has helped community collaboratives strengthen education and employment pathways for opportunity youth across its network of twenty-one cities, a report from the Aspen Institute finds.

The report, OYIF Annual Evaluation Report: Year Two Implementation (18 pages, PDF), examined outcomes in the cities that received first-round grants from the fund in 2013 and found significant progress in building and deepening pathways for youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither in school nor have jobs. Conducted by Equal Measure, the evaluation found that collaboratives in those cities have developed strong partnerships committed to the opportunity youth agenda; that communities are seeing a shift in attitudes vis-à-vis opportunity youth, evidenced by increased attention to their needs and assets; and that nearly all collaboratives have created pilot programs to address gaps in services, while more than two-thirds have broadened their reach by scaling a pilot or existing program.

The report also found that collaboratives have engaged key civic and institutional leaders and had some success in influencing public policy, while the cities in questions have made the most progress in helping youth earn a high school diploma or gain work experience.

According to the Aspen Forum, the OYIF network  has the potential to impact local systems that reach 1.3 million, or more than 25 percent, of the five million opportunity youth in the United States.

"Taken together, these findings suggest that OYIF collaboratives show promise in building strong partnerships that collectively address the unique needs of opportunity youth," the report states. "Furthermore, they are building and strengthening local systems in order to seamlessly and more effectively support opportunity youth."