OYP’s Foundation

Problem Definition

In Santa Clara County there are more than 20,000 Opportunity Youth – youth and young adults disconnected from the critical systems and experiences of education and employment that lead to self-sufficiency.  These youth and young adults are disconnected from the incredible wealth of opportunities available in Silicon Valley. This is particularly true for the Opportunity Youth Partnership’s priority population: Opportunity Youth who have experienced the child welfare system, the justice system, homelessness, or who are pregnant/parenting.
The Opportunity Youth Partnership’s shared measurement system (bi-annual data collection in partnership with 12 CBOs and 2 reengagement education programs, contributing data on more than 2,000 youth over the past 3 years) has shown us that Opportunity Youth in our network are:

  • Disproportionately young people of color: 84% are Latino or African American;
  • Heavily system impacted: 68% have experienced the foster or justice system; and
  • Substantially under-educated: 42% of those 18 and older have not graduated high school.

Drawing on national figures, we know only 1% of Opportunity Youth will earn an associates or bachelor’s degree by the age of 28. These troubling statistics are true at the very moment earning a postsecondary credential is more closely tied to achieving a middle class income than at any time in American history. According to a report published by Pew Research Center, the typical high school graduate’s earnings fell by more than $3,000, from $31,384 in 1965 to $28,000 in 2013. By 2020 two out of every three jobs will require postsecondary education or training.

Shared Vision

Our Vision

The Opportunity Youth Partnership envisions a Comprehensive Second Chance System that meets Opportunity Youth where they are, and links stabilization and support services to the education pathways needed to earn living wage employment and achieve durable self-sufficiency. 

Our Approach to Achieving the Vision

We will work toward this vision using a collective impact approach that engages a multi-sector collaborative, to build reliable, repeatable, and transparent pathways to and through post-secondary education/training that culminate in employment.

Common Agenda

Retool Education and Career Pathways

Leverage and connect the work of dropout recovery education providers, education-focused stabilization and support CBOs, and postsecondary education and training providers to map seamless pathways that allow Opportunity Youth to earn a high school diploma in a well-supported environment, transition to an industry-valued postsecondary education/training program, and find career potential employment. 

Cultivate Resources for Systemic Change

Identify philanthropic, governmental, and venture-oriented resources that support the work of the backbone, facilitate pilot projects, and allow for the institutionalization of game changing practices. The backbone function is a needed role that represents the glue which binds the work of many partners together in a manner that allows our whole to be greater than the sum of our parts.

Build Evidence and Accountability

Adopt common indicators and metrics that support a clear-eyed focus on education and employment across all OYP partners in order to support fearless transparency and allow partners to rapidly identify and propagate effective practice across the partnership.

Align and Improve Systems

Support greater connection and integration of the CBO sector, and support deeper alignment between the CBO sector and government systems to ensure all parties are pursuing common goals. Define minimum standards of service and practice, and identify baseline competencies for staff serving Opportunity Youth.

Build the Movement

Advocate for a collective impact approach to solving our toughest social issues, build public will to tackle the work through multi-sector initiatives, and focus the conversation on the toughest issues and the metrics that matter most.

Guiding Principles

Collaborate for Impact

The OYP believes that we must move from a service landscape defined by silos and isolated impacts, to a robust multi-sector partnership that holistically addresses the needs of Opportunity Youth in Santa Clara County from recovery to stabilization, and onward to education and entry-level employment.

Use Data to Guide Decisions and Assess Impact

The OYP believes that what gets measured gets done. The OYP seeks to create a unified set of common indicators utilized by all Opportunity Youth serving organizations, and common timelines along with quality standards for data collection. When partners’ decision and actions are guided by data, actions, outcomes, and conversations change.

Embrace a Pathways Approach

The OYP believes that well-articulated and well-supported pathways represent the best bet for young people to find true self-sufficiency. The OYP works to link all services and systems into a broader array of pathways and options that are transparent and understandable to young people and their supporters.

Create Policy and Systems Alignment

The OYP believes that the fragmented nature policy and systems leaves young people unable to navigate the critical systems of care, support, and stabilization that are crucial to achieving self-sufficiency. Engaging government as partners and intentionally advocating for new policies and critical changes to or reinterpretations of existing policies is a core responsibility of the partnership.

Leverage Funding to Support and Sustain Innovation

The OYP believes this is worthy work. The OYP aims to ensure people and institutions are investing in the Opportunity Youth space in a coordinated way that leads to improved results and spreads effective practices, and that both philanthropy and government are thinking about Opportunity Youth when allocating resources.