The Aspen Institute’s Opportunity Youth Forum (OYF), in partnership with the
T. L. L. Temple Foundation, has awarded a grant to San Augustine ISD and Jasper ISD for their innovative proposals to reconnect opportunity youth in a rural setting. The OYIF is managed by the Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions which is dedicated to reconnecting “Opportunity Youth” to education and employment. The two school districts were recognized at the Forum’s national invitation-only convening in Philadelphia, PA, on April 23-25.
Opportunity Youth is a term to describe the almost five million young people (between the ages of 16-24) in the U.S. who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market. The OYIF, which was designed to support collaboratives across the country that, according to the Aspen Institute, “harness the power of cross-sector collaboration to make substantive progress for opportunity youth.” The collaborations with partners across the country will work to build education and employment pathways for those with the least access to opportunity in the San Augustine and Jasper districts.
“The results of this initiative is to encourage all sectors of the community to evaluate their strategies beyond stand-alone efforts, as our experience has shown that working together with a common agenda, shared metrics, and strong coordination and communication across systems, can aggregate the impact of community actors,” said Melody C. Barnes, former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and Chair of the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions.
“Strategically aligning with the missions of the Aspen Institute and T. L.L. Temple Foundation, San Augustine ISD will utilize this level of support to provide “access and opportunities” for Opportunity Youth in San Augustine County in the areas of post-secondary credentials, workforce specific credentials, GED/high school diplomas, industry-based certifications, and specifically a Health Science Pathway and Back on Track Pathway,” commented Dr. Jason Mixon, San Augustine ISD Assistant Superintendent. “We realize that we must change operationally how we are engaging our youth in San Augustine County. Our district will initially engage with 30 Opportunity Youth from the county and reconstruct their future and future generations of their family.”
Jasper ISD Superintendent Dr. Gerald Hudson said, “The Aspen Institute opportunity will allow our Jasper community to connect to a vast network of people, communities, and resources. Sharing a common goal, we will work to develop and implement sustainable, robust programs to reengage our disengaged youth through providing industry-based skills, access to education and college opportunities, and help transition students to careers.”
During the next year, San Augustine ISD and Jasper ISD will work to bring together the K-12 systems; higher education, and other postsecondary providers; municipal and state governments; national and local philanthropy and nonprofits; and private sector and labors leaders in their communities, to design stabilization supports, education credentialing, and employment reconnection strategies for young people who have extraordinary barriers to success. Over the next five years, the local initiative will emphasize the re-engagement of young people 18-24 years old who are neither enrolled in school, college, nor participating in the labor market.
According to Wynn Rosser, president and CEO of the Temple Foundation, the Aspen OYF has been active in Texas for six years with a site in Austin. Nationally, though, there are few rural sites or small towns in the OYF network. Rosser said, “The foundation is excited to support two East Texas Communities that are committed to leading efforts to ensure more of our youth are successful.”
The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions was launched in 2012 in response to the social challenges affecting people in need. A cross-sector leadership group convened by the White House Council on Community Solutions examined this situation and released several seminal reports that served to launch the Forum for Community Solutions at the Aspen Institute. The Forum is chaired by Melody C. Barnes and OYF is led by Monique Miles and Steve Patrick. For more information, visit: AspenCommunitySolutions.org.
The T. L. L. Temple Foundation was established in 1962 by Georgie Temple Munz with an initial gift of 1,000 shares of Southern Pine Lumber Company stock worth $56,000. The foundation is named in memory and honor of her father, Thomas Lewis Latané Temple, who formed Southern Pine Lumber Company (later Temple Inland Inc.) in 1893. Since its founding, the T.L.L. Temple Foundation has invested more than $440 million, primarily to strengthen families and communities in Deep East Texas and to alleviate poverty, creating access and opportunities for all.