Opportunity Works

Back on Track Designs

Reengaging Opportunity Youth

Reengaging youth and young adults who are off track to graduation, or disconnected from both education and work, and putting them on a path to postsecondary credentials.

Lili Allen
Associate Vice President, Reconnection Strategies and Designs
617.728.4446 x105

Opportunity Works

Opportunity Works, an initiative of Jobs for the Future, in partnership with the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund (OYIF), is building the evidence base of what works to improve the credential attainment and employment prospects of low-income opportunity youth—16 to 24 year olds, with or without high school diplomas, who are insufficiently attached to education and the workforce.

Supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund (SIF), matched by new investments from national and regional funders, Opportunity Works advances the efforts of seven communities (Boston, MA; Hartford, CT; New Orleans, LA; Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco, CA; Santa Clara, CA; and South King County, WA) to reconnect these vastly underserved young people with education and employment on-ramps and pathways that dramatically improve their life trajectories.

Opportunity Works places a special emphasis on strategies for engaging boys and men of color, and will document impact on this population in response to the call to action from the national My Brother’s Keeper initiative. Special attention will be paid to young people who are homeless, and in or transitioning from the foster care and/or juvenile justice system.

In each participating site, a high performing local organization serves as the “backbone” for a collective impact approach to drive the implementation and scaling of one or more evidence-based “Back on Track” interventions shown to accelerate advancement to educational credentials and employment for the target population: enriched academic preparation, postsecondary bridging, and career pathways supports. Sites receive comprehensive technical assistance, including individualized site coaching; assistance with data collection and use; cross-community learning; access to subject matter experts and sharing of best practices; and assistance in meeting the requirements of a rigorous third-party evaluation conducted by Urban Institute. The evaluation will provide evidence for what works to accelerate credential attainment and workforce prospects of currently under-represented young people.

This social innovation strategy will improve the lives of opportunity youth, build the evidence base of what works, and significantly engage and contribute to the work of local civic and institutional leaders, private and public funders, opportunity youth themselves, and the organizations that work most closely with them (including K-12, higher education, youth development, workforce development, health and human services, public care and custodial systems, as well as employers, industry groups, labor unions, and community training providers). 

Read press releases about this work under Related in News & Media.