Making Opportunities Work for Youth
Expanding Proven Pathways to College and Careers
Adonis finished a prison term at age 20, only to be arrested again a few months later. Rogdericka worked long hours at low-wage jobs and barely slept so she could help support six siblings. Juan lived for 15 years with foster families, then became homeless when he was too old for state care. Little has been easy for these low-income young people from Boston, Hartford, and New Orleans. But their past no longer appears to be dictating the course of their future. After struggling through their high school years, all three are on the way to earning college credentials that have a good chance of providing a permanent path out of poverty. Their accomplishments so far—and their ongoing efforts to overcome setbacks—are part of a new national initiative to dramatically improve the life trajectories of 16- to 24-year-olds disconnected from school and work, often called “opportunity youth.” The initiative, called Opportunity Works, is led by Jobs for the Future in partnership with the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions in seven U.S. cities and metro areas. This brief tells the story of the work and the people involved.