Foundation Launches Partnership To Move Results for Maryland “Opportunity Youth”

Posted February 12, 2017, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Casey Foundation and the Maryland Governor’s Office for Children are launching a results-based leadership program aimed at improving academic and employment outcomes for youth ages 16 to 24 who are neither in school nor working ― often referred to as “opportunity youth” because of the value they can bring to the economy and their communities.

Starting this month, the Foundation will work with leaders who work directly with young people or who are planning to create or expand existing programming to serve this population in 10 communities across Maryland.

These leaders will learn core competencies, such as how to use data to assess progress, collaborate, build consensus and advance work to achieve results. As part of the curriculum, the leaders will confront how race, class and culture affect outcomes and opportunities for young people and focus on addressing these disparities. The program will support leaders as they build the organizational and community capacity to reach opportunity youth.

“Education and employment are two key indicators of a young person’s well-being,” said Arlene Lee, executive director of the Governor’s Office for Children. “Improving outcomes for 16- to 24-year-olds creates greater economic stability that will lead to long-term self-sufficiency for children, youth and families.” Lee also chairs Maryland’s Children’s Cabinet, which coordinates the child and family-focused service delivery system in the state.

Each of the 10 Maryland communities has formed its own team of local leaders to participate. Participants include local management board members, school administrators, counselors, nonprofit managers, workforce development directors, post-secondary education staff, social workers and other social services and health professionals. Each participant will attend four two-day sessions over the course of 2017.

“The Casey Foundation and the Governor’s Office for Children share a fundamental belief in the potential of opportunity youth,” said Patrick McCarthy, president and chief executive officer of the Foundation. “Over the course of the year, leaders from across Maryland will be learning new skills and competencies that prepare them to address the kinds of complex, multidisciplinary challenges that disconnect young people from school and work.”

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