Aspen Institute Program Receives $10 Million Ballmer Group Investment to Provide Youth With Opportunities to Succeed

October 3, 2019

Transformative gift enables the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions to collect and interpret data that accelerates and improves outcomes for opportunity youth

Contact: Jon Purves
Senior Media Relations Manager
The Aspen Institute
[email protected]

October 3, Washington, DC – The Aspen Institute announced today that the Ballmer Group is making a $10 million investment to improve outcomes for opportunity youth. The significant investment supports the work of the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions (FCS), which oversees a national network of over two-dozen communities known as Opportunity Youth Forum Communities (OYF). The network is designed to connect 16- to 24-year-olds who are out of school and work to employment and education opportunities.

The Ballmer Group’s investment enables a five-year commitment focused on the collection and use of data to drive improvement, a key priority for the entire OYF network. At all levels, data-driven programmatic and policy decisions have the potential to increase quality of services, ultimately providing young people in these communities with more opportunities, increased equity, and support for youth-led change.

“There are young people in communities across the U.S. who deserve better, but just need the right opportunity to demonstrate their potential. The Forum for Community Solutions is committed to their journey, and in order to deliver results we need to quantify what works,” said Steve Patrick, Executive Director of the Forum for Community Solutions. “Thanks to the Ballmer Group, we will be able to collect and utilize data in an entirely different way, ensuring that lessons from specific communities can be captured and scaled to the benefit of our entire network.”

One element of this strategy includes the provision of new supports for the use of data in decision making as a skill. Additionally, FCS plans to go deep with a handful of community partners to build out dramatically improved data capacity at the community and partner level.

An expanded community focus includes the examination of partner level data, allowing for new analyses of how local systems, processes and funding are contributing to outcomes. Ultimately, this process will empower FCS to leverage national resources across the network with a focus on successful outcomes, ultimately transforming the lives of young people.

This announcement follows an initial $1 million investment from the Ballmer Group in 2018-2019 which examined new ways to interpret opportunity youth data and measurement at a community level, including disaggregating data to understand how specific subgroups of youth are doing, and to look more closely at equity of outcomes. The success of the initial investment, which demonstrated a clear need to continue supporting data capacity, paved the way for this new five-year commitment.

The Opportunity Youth Forum began in 2012 (as the “Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund”) to leverage momentum coming out of the White House Council for Community Solutions. It is comprised of a network of urban, rural, and tribal communities seeking to scale multiple reconnection pathways that achieve better outcomes in education and careers for opportunity youth. Approximately one-quarter of the estimated 4.6 million, or about 1.2 million, of all opportunity youth in the U.S. live in the areas in and around Opportunity Youth Forum communities.

About the Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute is a nonprofit organization with global reach whose vision is the creation of a free, just, and equitable society. For 70 years, the Institute has driven change by inspiring dialogue, leadership, and action to address society’s greatest challenges. With headquarters in Washington, DC, the Institute has offices in Aspen, Colorado and New York City, as well as an international network of partners. Learn more at aspeninstitute.org.

About Ballmer Group
Ballmer Group works to improve economic mobility for children and families in the United States who are disproportionately likely to remain in poverty. It supports the use of data and strong partnerships among public, private, and nonprofit organizations at the community level to more effectively serve families.  Ballmer Group was co-founded by philanthropist and civic activist Connie Ballmer and her husband Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, founder of USAFacts, and chairman of the Los Angeles Clippers. Twitter: @BallmerGroup

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