Jobs for the Future, Inc.

Jobs for the Future Opportunity Works logo

Jobs for the Future and its partner, the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions, seeks to improve education and career outcomes for youth disconnected from school or work, also known as Opportunity Youth, in 12 communities across the country. The expectation is that participating youth will earn a diploma or its equivalent and enter postsecondary education at twice the rate of peers who do not receive these services.

Grantee Information
Federal Awards: 
$6 million over three years (2014-2016)
Focus Area: 
Youth Development
Geographic Focus: 
City of Boston; City of Hartford; City of New Orleans; City of Philadelphia; City of San Francisco; Santa Clara County, CA; South King County, WA


JFF/Aspen Institute Opportunity Works (OW) are taking a collective impact approach to improving outcomes for opportunity youth, especially young men of color, by selecting a diverse portfolio of up to 12 communities. The communities selected will have a high likelihood of success in implementing one or both of the evidence-based Back on Track interventions identified for this initiative, have the financial management systems in place to manage a federal grant, and have the capacity to participate in a third-party evaluation and support a performance management system.

Nonprofits Receiving Social Innovation Fund Awards from Jobs for the Future/Aspen Institute

Bay Area Communtiy Resources
The Boston Private Industry Council
Capital Workforce Partners
The Cowan Institute
Kids in Common
Philadelphia Youth Network
United Way of King County

Bay Area Community Resources

San Rafael, CA
Area Served: City of San Francisco
Initial Award Amount: $270,000

The Bay Area Community Resources and its partners in the Road Map to Peace collaborative will provide education, workforce, and wraparound services to 18 to 24 year-old youth of color, in particular Latino males, who are gang-involved/violence-exposed. Outreach will be conducted by youth leaders and through community organizations and the justice system; reengaged youth will enroll in Five Keys Charter School, a Sheriff’s Office sponsored state charter school that offers GED and diploma-granting programming. Community-based organizations will provide wraparound support and case management, as well as self-efficacy, violence prevention, and career/ employment readiness training, to the young people as they work toward their secondary credential and transition into employment training. Young people will also participate in construction employment training offered at AND, which also hosts a Five Keys Charter satellite on site. Core collaborative partners will create subsidized employment based on young peoples’ career interests.

Five Keys has locations at 21 sites across the city including in jails; through Five Keys, the partners will be able to scale this carefully designed approach to ensure that youth transitioning from the criminal justice system persist toward a high school credential and into training leading to a credential with value in the labor market.

The Boston Private Industry Council

Boston, MA
Area Served: City of Boston
Initial Award Amount: $270,000

The Boston Private Industry Council and the Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative are addressing a key gap in services for older opportunity youth in Boston who have a high school credential but are not in school or working. The Boston PIC and its partners have launched a Connection Center where young people who fit this description can come for assistance in reengaging with their education and potential careers. Through the OYIF SIF, Boston will implement a postsecondary/career bridging strategy that offers these youth, at least 40 percent of whom are boys and men of color, supported transitions into postsecondary education and training. Navigation coaches will transition these young adults to and through postsecondary education and training, and ultimately, to the start of a career. This effort will align with and build upon a citywide campaign to help all Boston youth transition successfully to postsecondary education—allowing this campaign to reach a far more challenged population.

The Boston collective impact collaborative has selected four high-performing partner programs to provide the bridging program and navigation supports; it also has MOUs with nine others that have agreed to both refer to and accept referrals from the Connection Center. Boston has multiple strategies to achieve scale, including launching a collectively shared data tracking strategy, systemic changes to increase student support and connections at the community colleges, and expanding the number of programs that are using the Back on Track model.

Capital Workforce Partners

Hartford, CT
Area Served: City of Hartford
Initial Award Amount: $270,000

Capital Workforce Partners and the Hartford Opportunity Youth Collaborative are supporting older underserved young people through a full pathway approach—from high school credential to postsecondary/career bridging and technical training and job experience. They will serve youth in two pathways: Pathways to Manufacturing Initiative features a partnership between a youth-serving nonprofit organization, Our Piece of the Pie (OPP) and Asnuntuck Community College. OPP delivers enriched preparation including academic skill development, youth development, and jobs and internships; Asnuntuck delivers postsecondary bridging and on-ramps to careers, working closely with employers to assure relevance of skills and credentials.

The Blue Hills Employment and Skills Training Program is offered by a partnership between Blue Hills Civic Association, a community-based organization that delivers bridging/on-ramps, and two postsecondary partners: Capital Community College and Manchester Community College. The colleges deliver instructional components of the model and credit-bearing programs in the medical field including nursing, medical assisting, paramedics, and physical therapy. The Hartford collaborative has prioritized boys and men of color, and young parents.

Because of its expertise in leveraging public funds, and because Capital Workforce Partners has committed 100% of public workforce funds to out-of-school youth, and works closely with employers, the Hartford Opportunity Youth Collaborative is in a strong position to use a collective impact approach to sustain and grow the pathways.

The Cowen Institute

New Orleans, LA
Area Served: City of New Orleans
Initial Award Amount: $$270,000

The Cowen Institute and the EMPLOY collaborative will leverage and coordinate education, training, and job placement services to enable youth to enter career pathways in the region’s high-growth industries. Partners include a high-performing community-based youth development organization with extensive experience serving opportunity youth along the pipeline to career-track employment; a community college with a strong integrated ABE-to-credentials model; and Tulane University, the city’s largest employer, which is modeling for other employers the benefits of partnering with community organizations and training providers to create earn-and-learn pathways to career-track employment for opportunity youth. The majority of youth served by these programs will be youth of color, and over half will be young men.

For those without a high school credential, Delgado Community College’s Accelerated Career Education (ACE) program and the Youth Employment Project will provide High School Equivalency programming along with life coaching, case management, and career-focused technical and academic skills training. For those with a high school credential, the initiative will offer several options including youth enterprises, an employer Boot Camp program, and Tulane’s Earn and Learn, which offers young people co-enrollment in ACE, as well as paid apprenticeships at Tulane in fields related to their program of study.

Additionally, members of EMPLOY are creating a data network that allows for streamlined intake, assessment, and referral of youth across youth-serving organizations and educational institutions. This network will expand EMPLOY’s understanding of local disconnection causes and reconnection strategies, and inform decision-making at the practitioner and systems level.

Partners expect to scale through engaging additional anchor employers in the initiative. The current focus is on Skilled Crafts and Creative Digital Media/IT; additional sectors such as health care will be added in the future.

Kids in Common

San Jose, CA
Area Served: Santa Clara County
Initial Award Amount: $270,000

Kids in Common and its partners in the Opportunity Youth Partnership have three key strategies: 1) strengthen and expand reengagement options at the San Jose Conservation Corps and Charter School and the Santa Clara Office of Education’s Reengagement Academy for high-risk opportunity youth including transition age foster youth, homeless youth ,and court-involved youth; 2) co-locate Navigators at these sites, who will help to remove barriers to engagement for youth transitioning out of foster care, homeless youth, and justice-involved youth, and promote pathways with a clear connection to postsecondary education and careers; and 3) develop an employment coach position to provide youth support to obtain internships and jobs through TeenForce, an innovative youth-focused employment agency.

Partner agencies include community organizations experienced in working with foster youth, youth involved in the justice system, and other youth facing barriers to success. The Santa Clara partners expect that 70 percent of those served in these programs will be young men of color.

Santa Clara partners will utilize collective impact to scale these strategies through aligning and integrating programs and systems to ensure that youth can get on track for academic and career success regardless of where they enter a pathway, and through expanding numbers served at core programs. For example, the Reengagement Academy currently serves 100 youth per year but will expand to up to 500 youth per year in three years.

Philadelphia Youth Network

Philadelphia, PA
Area Served: City of Philadelphia
Initial Award Amount: $270,000

The Philadelphia Youth Network and its partners in the Project U-Turn collaborative will implement and expand postsecondary bridging services at four E3 Centers to increase postsecondary persistence and success for a very challenged population. E3 Centers are neighborhood-based service sites designed to help lower-skilled out-of-school youth and youth returning from juvenile placement to build literacy, numeracy, and 21st-century skills, attain a high school credential, and prepare for postsecondary education and careers. These Centers serve a high concentration of boys and men of color.

Through the OYIF SIF, the Philadelphia partners will create a structured postsecondary bridging program to ensure a smoother pathway from secondary to postsecondary credential attainment. Specific features include supported dual enrollment, a focus on college knowledge and success strategies, and personalized guidance and connection to “best bet” postsecondary programs of study that lead to credentials that will pay off in the labor market.

Philadelphia Youth Network and its partners expect to scale the effort by creating a replicable model for postsecondary preparation and bridging in the context of the E3 Centers, and by leveraging the partners in its collective impact approach to ensure that local, state, and federal resources are allocated to programming for opportunity youth.

United Way of King County
Seattle, WA
Area Served: South King County
Initial Award Amount: $240,000

United Way of King County and the Community Center for Education Results, with their partners in the Road Map Project collaborative, will implement a postsecondary bridging program in reengagement centers that are currently focused on helping youth attain a high school credential. They will bring in Seattle Education Access (SEA), which has a set of postsecondary bridging services that have shown success in helping youth—especially youth of color—succeed in postsecondary. SEA’s College and Career Success model addresses barriers often faced by opportunity youth by providing them with student-centered college access and navigation services, including creating a college funding plan, facilitating career exploration, fostering self-advocacy, preparing for postsecondary placement tests, connecting youth to broader networks, and supporting students as they transition to and through college. SEA education advocates will work closely with case managers at the reengagement centers, and supplement their supports through partnering with AmeriCorps members and college counseling services.

Area reengagement centers are supported by “Open Doors” state policy that drives per-pupil funding to dropout recovery programs. South King County collective impact partners expect that once the SIF evaluation demonstrates the effectiveness of postsecondary bridging, they will have powerful fuel for an advocacy effort for an enhanced per-student funding model that enables this bridging support to be offered to all recovered dropouts in the state.

Back to Top