Jobs for the Future’s Program Director of Pathways through Postsecondary Terry Grobe represented our Back on Track work and presented an overview of six years of Postsecondary Success Strategies work with national network partners at a Congressional briefing hosted by The Corps Network this week. This work—supported by the Gates Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Nellie Mae and New Profit, Inc.—has focused on improving the education and workforce outcomes of older youth who are disconnected from education and work. We presented our Back on Track model, as well as policy implications stemming from the work. Communiity-based organizations—34 in all—used the Back on Track model in partnership with community colleges to strengthen their program designs and delivery, making it possible for "opportunity youth" to earn a high school diploma or GED while transitioning to and completing postsecondary education or training.
The Corps Network, YouthBuild USA, National Youth Employment Coalition, Brandeis University, and Miami-Dade College had compelling panelists, including Scott Emerick of YouthBuild and Mala Thakur of NYEC, who spoke about the successes of PSS and how the Back on Track model revolutionized the way they do their work. Brandeis provided new data on several thousand youth served through the programs, with over 70 percent of students persisting through their first year of postsecondary education. As a result of the briefing, this critical work for opportunity youth has potential to inform key federal legislation in the future, including the Higher Education Act and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.