On Wednesday, November 7, 2018, the Boston PIC and the Boston Opportunity Agenda brought together 200 institution leaders and community partners for the release of New Directions: Creating Career Pathways for and with Opportunity Youth. This report chronicles the Opportunity Youth Collaborative’s activities and lessons learned over its six-year effort to engage opportunity youth in career pathways. Most importantly, it provides forward facing recommendations for policy and practice change in the workforce, postsecondary education, K-12 and youth development systems.
“Opportunity youth” is a term developed by the White House Council for Community Solutions to refer to 16-24 year-olds who are neither working, nor in school. There are currently 4.6 million opportunity youth living in the United States—11.7% of that age group. This is a challenge for communities across the nation, as those who stay disconnected at this age are more likely to remain disconnected as adults. As a result, local economies suffer from an underdeveloped workforce, and communities lose the potential civic and professional contributions these young people might otherwise make. Undoubtedly, this is an equity issue, as higher proportions of black and Latinx youth are disconnected than white youth. In Boston, 19.9% of black youth and 18.5% of Latino youth were disconnected in 2012, compared with 2.9% of white youth.
The audience for the report release was diverse and engaged - ranging from job-training programs, youth-serving nonprofits, community colleges, public agencies, private employers and the Boston school district. Neil Sullivan, Executive Director of the PIC, opened the event by highlighting the importance of opportunity youth to Boston’s social and economic future. Kathy Hamilton and Kristin McSwain, co-conveners of the OYC, presented the findings and recommendations from the report.
Panelists included Chief of Economic Development John Barros, Nuri Chandler-Smith of Bunker Hill Community College, Maddrey Goode of MassHire Boston Career Center, and Amanda Shabowich of the Youth Voice Project. Panelists responded to the report findings and offered their unique perspectives as policymakers and practitioners. Chief of Education Rahn Dorsey closed the program by reflecting on the Collaborative’s accomplishments thus far and focusing the audience on the work that remains to be done.
You can find the report here.