Opportunities for Youth

The 2012 Measure of America Report indicated that the greater Phoenix area had the highest rate (19%) of opportunity youth (OY; youth ages 16-24 who are neither working nor in school) among 25 metropolitan areas across the country. In the Phoenix metropolitan area alone, an estimated 1 in 5 youth were disconnected from employment and educational institutions in 2012. This high rate contributed to the selection of Phoenix in 2015 as one of 26 demonstration cities of the national 100K Opportunities Initiative. The 100K Opportunities Initiative aims to bridge the opportunity divide for the 4.9 million young Americans across the country, aged 16-24, who are out of school and not working, by forging connections between employers and the employees they need.

Demonstration cities across the United States are funded by an array of private foundations and governmental entities to reduce their rate of opportunity youth by implementing educational and employment pathway programs for opportunity youth across community partner organizations who together follow a collective impact approach. The collective impact model is guided by five key principles:

1) establish a common agenda to solve a local program

2) adopt shared measures of success

3) implement mutually reinforcing activities

4) encourage continuous communication

5) coordinate the collective through a strong backbone organization

In 2017, the Center for Human Capital and Youth Development (CHCYD) at the ASU Watts College of Public Service & Community Solutions became the backbone organization in Phoenix for the national 100K Opportunities Initiative. In Maricopa County, the mission and goals of the national 100K Opportunities Initiative are carried out by Opportunities for Youth (OFY).  OFY is a coalition of over 50 employers, governmental agencies, non-profits, community colleges, and universities committed to creating educational and employment pathways for opportunity youth across Maricopa County. OFY attempts to close the gap between talented youth looking for work and employers ready to hire such talent.