Seattle Education Access student Matina (left) chats with her Education Advocate Cooper.
Our region is one of many around the country that has worked to reframe conversations about disconnection with the more strengths-based term “opportunity youth,” putting the onus on the systems needing to change, not the young people. Since early 2015 and through the hard work of many partners, the service landscape for opportunity youth has shifted from a limited and fragmented assortment of programs to a more coordinated system of education and employment pathways. While progress is promising—and the number of opportunity youth in our region is decreasing—much work remains to ensure programs are high quality, designed to meet current needs, well-coordinated from high school completion through college and career, and equipped with the resources necessary to achieve maximum impact.
This action plan aims to inform ongoing and future work at the program and system levels. Chapter one describes the state of the opportunity youth “system” and its evolution over the past five years. Chapter two describes what we know about opportunity youth in our region, drawing on data and research from a range of sources. Chapter three identifies opportunities that are ripe for coordinated regional work over the next several years. The priorities identified build on the lessons in chapters one and two and were developed with input from a wide range of projects, partners, providers, and youth.