November 4, 2015

Working to Connect ‘Opportunity Youth’ with Jobs and EducationThe Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce and the Flint & Genesee Opportunity Youth Coalition convened nearly 60 nonprofit, faith, educational and government service-providers to devise strategies to combat issues faced by “Opportunity Youth” – i.e., young people ages 16-24 who are disconnected from education or employment.

Held Oct. 27 at ELGA Credit Union, the organizers were joined by the Washington, D.C.-based Forum for Youth Investment. Together, the group mapped out existing programs and services in our community, gained a better understanding of the synergies between their work and identified opportunities to work together to improve outcomes for this population.

The meeting was the second in a series of community meetings – the first one held Aug. 12 – convened to increase academic, social, and career success for challenged young people.

Future meetings will build on the work started at the previous sessions and will be expanded to include broader audiences, including employers, parents, media, labor and residents.

According to a 2012 report titled The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth, the lifetime taxpayer/social burden per 16-year-old opportunity youth exceeds $1 million. There are more than 9,000 Opportunity Youth in Genesee County who, with the right services and support, could fill talent needs for employers and contribute more fully in the economy.

“Flint and Genesee County cannot afford to let this population fall through the cracks,” said Crystal Pepperdine, Development and Communications Manager for Priority Children.

The Flint & Genesee Opportunity Youth Coalition is led by the Flint & Genesee Chamber and a Steering Committee comprised of local nonprofit leaders, workforce development representatives and concerned citizens.

The group, formerly known as the Disconnected Youth Coalition, recently transitioned to Chamber leadership and is supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.