The Opportunity Youth Forum: Forging a National Network to Advance Equitable Systems Change

February 16, 2021  • Forum for Community Solutions

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Independent evaluators Equal Measure conducted an evaluation to explore the status of the Opportunity Youth Forum, and the communities in which they operate, to better understand areas of strength and opportunities for additional focus and learning. This report details Network-wide evaluation findings drawn from data collection among 23 of 27 communities participating in the Forum for Community Solutions’ OYF Network in 2019.

You can read the executive summary and entire report here; or this infographic.

Grounding Systems Change Efforts in Core Values

Equity, youth-led change, and community power are core values and strategies embedded in the OYF work. Collaboratives are incorporating these values into their infrastructure and processes, as well as into their efforts to change local systems. Every collaborative is explicitly acknowledging racial equity and community disparities in its planning. In addition to incorporating racial equity as a critical factor in setting the opportunity youth agenda, collaboratives are building diverse partnerships reflective of the communities they serve and making strides to diversify their decision-making ranks.

Developing Collaborative Capacity

Collaborative capacity—the infrastructure and processes necessary for the collaborative to carry out its opportunity youth agenda—varies across the Network. While some collaboratives new to the OYF Network are just beginning to establish the processes necessary to carry out their work, others have well-established processes with robust infrastructure.

Shifting Systems to Support Opportunity Youth

The OYF Network serves as a collective of communities working towards systems change to better re-engage and support opportunity youth. A look at how systems change in 2019 varied across different types of collaboratives suggests that larger collaboratives and those with more staff dedicated to opportunity youth efforts — as well as collaboratives and backbones that have focused on opportunity youth for a longer period of time — are more likely to report greater systems change.