A Ribbon of Opportunity Youth Initiatives

It makes an interesting picture — The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions invited 36 cities to apply, received 33 applications and selected 21 cities to receive grants for the Opportunity Youth Initiative design and planning grants. The winning cities seem to outline the edges of our nation with the exception of that long border that we share with Canada.

In a lot of cases these are cities that have been at the forefront of improving outcome for youth for decades such as the Boston Private industry Council and the Philly Youth Network. Others are newer, but no less powerful, such as the Bronx Opportunity Network and the Road Map Project in South King County Washington.

The challenge is going to be to build on the work of these cities, the most recent initiative to create systemic responses to the growing crises facing our youth, into something that can generate enough power to re-align federal policy. Or at a minimum funding.

Let’s take a look at what Atlantic Philanthropies has done in their effort to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline and see if we could complement this systemic/programmatic approach with a strong organizing/advocacy one.There was a lot of groundwork…but with savvy investments in local organizing coupled with some informal efforts by influential people we are flipping those policies in just a couple of years.

FYI – The following are the communities selected, including the name of the backbone organizations and the name of the collaborative.

Atlanta, GA | United Way of Greater Atlanta – Atlanta Ready by 21
Austin, TX | Workforce Solutions Capital Area – Austin Opportunity Youth Collaborative
Baltimore, MD | Family League of Baltimore City – Baltimore City Opportunity Youth Collaborative

Boston, MA | Boston Private Industry Council and Boston Opportunity Agenda  – The Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative
Chicago, IL | Mayor’s Office of Education
Del Norte County, CA | Wild Rivers Community Foundation – Building Healthy Communities
Denver, CO | Rose Community Foundation
Detroit, MI | Excellent Schools Detroit
Greenville, MS | Mid-South Delta LISC – The Greenville Sustainable Communities Initiative
Hartford, CT | Capital Workforce Partners: Capital Region Education Council –  Hartford Opportunity Youth Collaborative
Hopi, AZ | Hopi Community Foundation
Los Angeles, CA | Unite LA – LA Compact
Maine, Southern Rural | Muskie School of Public Service – Maine Youth Transition Collaborative
New Orleans, LA| Partnership for Youth Development
New York, NY | JobsFirst NYC – Bronx Opportunity Network
Oakland, CA | Urban Strategies Council
Philadelphia, PA | Philadelphia Youth Network – Project U-Turn Collaborative
San Diego, CA | San Diego Workforce Partnership
San Jose, CA | Kids in Common – The Children’s Agenda
South King County, WA | Community Center for Education Results – the Road Map Project
Tucson, AZ | United Way Tucson and Southern Arizona – Youth Development Coalition