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New center connects unemployed high school graduates to training, jobs

July 27, 2015

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

The Connection Center will help out-of-school, out-of-work 20-to 24-year-olds find success.

BOSTON - Monday, July 27, 2015 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today joined the Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative to launch the Connection Center, which will serve as a one-stop resource to help Boston high school graduates, 20-24 years old, who are unemployed and out of school with no postsecondary degree. The Connection Center, located inside the Ruggles MBTA station, will work to reach out to these young adults and refer them to education, training and employment opportunities throughout the Greater Boston. 

"Too many of our young people are still struggling because of competition for jobs and for college," said Mayor Walsh. "For the future of our City, we must create opportunities to prepare our residents for our workforce. The Connection Center will help young people find direction and the road to success. I thank the Obama Administration, the Boston Opportunity Youth Collaboration and all of our national and local partners who stand committed with us to help our young people and our City move forward." 

The Connection Center is a local option within the national movement to promote opportunities and pathways for the 6.7 million young people between the ages of 16 and 24 in the United States who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market. These young people are often referred to as Opportunity Youth. The "opportunity" is the chance to include their talents and contributions in a labor market that needs them as an entire older generation begins to retire.

Based on the U.S. Census Bureau's 2011-2013 American Community Surveys, there are 9,097 of these opportunity youth in Boston. Among them, there are 4,747 young adults who graduated from high school without connecting with the labor market or further education and training.  

The City is dedicated to creating equal access to opportunities throughout Boston, and inspiring young people to stay in school and continue their education, whether through higher education or workforce training programs, post-High School. The Boston Public Schools has cut its dropout rate by more than half over the last decade. Inspired by this success and building on the Mayor's local efforts for President Barack Obama's My Brother's Keeper Initiative, the City is giving added focus to the large numbers of young adults who graduate without a connection to career opportunities.

The Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC) is a cross-sector coalition, convened by the Boston Opportunity Agenda and the Boston Private Industry Council, with more than 70 member organizations and agencies. Stakeholders include the Mayor's Office, Boston Public Schools, philanthropy, local colleges, universities and community-based organizations.

The coalition came together to develop and implement a plan for connecting opportunity youth with pathways to career and financial independence. The OYC's final plan included a Connection Center as the first point of entry to community-based programs that would support young people in pursuing community college, job training and employment. Connection Center coaches will help young people navigate these pathways, which often prove challenging to those unfamiliar with the requirements of college, training or work. 

These coaches will engage young people, assess their needs and make supported referrals to the right programs. Participating organizations include College Bound Dorchester and Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (college bridging and completion programs), Jewish Vocational Service (pharmacy technician training), the Asian American Civic Association (employment services), as well as Year Up, YouthBuild and other agencies.

The OYC is one of seven community collaboratives across the country receiving three-year grants to implement their plans. The awards were made by Jobs for the Future and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Service as part of the Opportunity Works initiative, funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service through its Social Innovation Fund (SIF). Local match funding is being provided by the Barr Foundation, the Boston Foundation, the Hyams Foundation and the Lloyd G. Balfour Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee. The OYC is contracting with X-Cel Education, a dynamic nonprofit organization, to operate the center in space provided by Northeastern University, the MBTA and JRI/STRIVE Boston.

The Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative is a group of stakeholders who have come together around creating stronger systems to serve opportunity youth in Boston. First convened in 2013 by the Boston Private Industry Council and the Boston Opportunity Agenda, OYC members include the Mayor's Office, local community-based organizations, the Boston Public Schools, philanthropy, city and state agencies and postsecondary institutions.

Jobs for the Future (JFF) is a national nonprofit organization that works to ensure economic opportunity for all. They develop innovative career pathways and public policies, resulting in increased college readiness and success for students and a more skilled workforce for employers. For over 30 years, JFF has been a leader in building connections between education and work that expand opportunity and strengthen our economy.

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.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service and champions community solutions through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve.