Aspen Institute Re-Invests in Innovative Community Collaboratives to Engage “Opportunity Youth” in San Diego

SAN DIEGO, CA, July 29, 2014 – The Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund (OYIF) announced its second round of grants, which provides a new award to the San Diego Youth Development Office (YDO), as well as 18 additional communities across the United States. The Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund is managed by the Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions and is dedicated to reconnecting “Opportunity Youth” to education and employment. Opportunity Youth is a term used to describe the 6.7 million young people – between the ages of 16 to 24 in the United States – who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market.

Through the San Diego Youth Opportunity Pathways Initiative (PATHWAYS), YDO will continue to focus their efforts on the successful reconnection of Opportunity Youth through community collaborations that remove barriers, connect the various systems that touch their lives, and begin to scale effective pathways to jobs and long-term, family-sustaining success. The Aspen Forum for Community Solutions plans to provide up to $13 million in grants to OYIF sites and learning partners over the five-year course of the Fund.

“The announcement that the Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions will continue its investment in the future of San Diego’s Opportunity Youth is a welcome affirmation of our region’s capacity to support more positive futures for the many young people who have become disconnected from education and employment opportunities,” said Steve Eldred, Program Manager for the California Endowment. “These Opportunity Youth have typically experienced violence, neglect, and poverty on a continuous basis throughout their development. San Diego’s partnership between community organizations and multiple local government and educational institutions, coordinated by the San Diego Youth Development Office, aligns the resources necessary to support young people in pursuing their individual goals, while also addressing the systemic barriers that confront them.”

“San Diego Unified is proud to be a partner with the San Diego Youth Development Office,” said Cindy Marten, Superintendent of San Diego Unified School District. “The critical work of supporting our Opportunity Youth reflects San Diego Unified’s efforts to increase our graduation rate, reduce our dropout rate, and offer all of our students opportunities to be successful, no matter what path they are pursuing.”

During the past year, the YDO convened a collaborative with representation from City and County Elected Offices, Workforce System, Foster Care System, Juvenile Justice System, K-12 System, Post Secondary Systems, Businesses, Nonprofits, Funders, and former opportunity youth, to design education and employment reconnection strategies for young people who have extraordinary obstacles to success.

OYIF funds will be used to manage and support the initiative through ongoing facilitation, technology and support, data collection and reporting, and handling the myriad logistics and administrative details needed for the initiative to function smoothly. Through this collective impact approach, the YDO and its partners have begun to facilitate systems change that will best support and develop youth in San Diego.


San Diego Youth Development Office – Supporting positive youth development strategies that improve outcomes by connecting, convening and engaging stakeholders and their resources to advance the health and economic well being of San Diego’s Youth. The YDO is comprised of a cross-sector Steering Committee that provides oversight; and an Operations Committee that guides the work; and is led by a Director, Ian Gordon, who implements the strategic vision and plans. For more information visit: San Diego YDO

The Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions and Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund builds on the work and recommendations of the White House Council for Community Solutions. The Forum is chaired by Melody C. Barnes, former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and run by Executive Director Steve Patrick. For more information, visit:

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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