The organizations and efforts profiled in this guide are examples of high impact opportunities for donors to help. Many other organizations and efforts surfaced during our research as innovative and/ or high quality. While CHIP could not examine all with the same depth as those profiled, we include these organizations here for donors who are able to conduct their own due diligence and are interested in additional opportunities beyond those we analyzed. For more on what to look for in identifying high-quality programs, please refer to our “Best Practices” tips on page 20.
NONPROFIT INITIATIVES/DIRECT SERVICE
- Covenant House, founded in 1972 with branches in 31 cities in six countries, participated in the largest national study to date on the intersection of youth homelessness and sex trafficking. The study found that 1 in 5 homeless youth had been the victim of trafficking. It is the largest nonprofit organization providing emergency shelter and other services to runaway and homeless youth. Local shelters can be found on its website.
- Boston’s nonprofit Jewish Vocational Service provides training and job placement in the health care field complemented by a high level of support such as childcare, transportation assistance, ESL, basic skills, and tax preparation aid. While the program targets all disadvantaged populations, it has produced particularly impressive results serving young adults. An evaluation found that 18- to 24-yearolds in the program earned almost 50% more than a young adult control group after two years.
- Juma is a youth-run social enterprise that employs youth to sell concessions in major U.S. sports and entertainment venues so they can earn an income, get training and experience to launch a career, and build financial capability. Youth receive coaching to help them identify and plan towards educational, employment, career, and financial goals. Juma is currently in nine cities, and is expanding rapidly. Internal tracking shows that 90% of youth were placed in a full time job; and 92% of youth retained a new job 90 days post-Juma. An external random control trial study of organizational effectiveness is underway.
- Larkin Street Youth Services based in San Francisco, CA serves young people ages 12–24 experiencing homelessness. It began as a volunteer-run drop-in center but has expanded to provide a range of services that include outreach, shelter, housing, health, wellness, education, and employment. A 2009 study by Bain and Co. found that every dollar invested in Larkin Street yields $8 in saved social costs and benefits. Three in four youth who complete Larkin Street programs do not return to street life.
- Roca, operating in four communities in the Boston area, is a comprehensive model of engaging court-involved youth for extended periods of time (two to five years). It uses an intensive case management model and provides life skills, educational, pre-vocational, and employment programming. Roca is best known for its outreach and follow-up, knocking on doors, calling, and showing up again and again to support the most reluctant hard to reach youth. Early results indicate Roca reduces recidivism, reduces pregnancy, and has positive impacts on employment and wages.
- UTEC based in Lowell, MA provides workforce development and alternative education options, but is best known for its emphasis on youth-led grassroots organizing. UTEC begins with intensive street outreach and gang intervention efforts. Then, all enrolled youth are paired with a coach who assesses participants’ socio-emotional, educational, and behavioral needs—and creates a service plan with them. Internal evaluations indicate UTEC has reduced recidivism and increased educational attainment.
- Youth Advocate Programs is a national organization working in 22 states via direct service and policy/advocacy efforts. The program includes intensive wraparound services via an in-home coach or advocate for youth and families. The model is rooted in the principle of “family voice and choice,” meaning the model emphasizes building on strengths, not just meeting needs, and all services are selected and driven by the families served.
GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS/DIRECT SERVICE
- Jobs Corps is a federally funded and government- administered education and job training program for low income youth. Job Corps has 119 centers throughout the country and serves approximately 60,000 youth annually. It has been subject to rigorous evaluation, and has made a positive impact in the lives of participants. Although there is no easy way for donors to support the program directly, donors can advocate to protect public funding for the program.
- National Guard Youth Challenge offers a 17-month comprehensive alternative education and employment training program to youth in 28 states and one federal territory. It too has been subject to rigorous evaluation and has documented positive results. Run by the National Guard, the program is supported in part through the National Guard Youth Foundation, which accepts philanthropic donations.
- Service and Conservation Corps is a network of both government and nonprofit programs aimed at fostering youth service, life skills, and job experience, often through work in national and state parks. A 2011 national evaluation found a positive impact on youth education and employment. Individual members of the Corps Network by state can be found on its website; some of these accept philanthropic donations.
NONPROFIT, FOUNDATION, & PUBLIC/PRIVATE INITIATIVES
- Annie E. Casey LEAP initiative and Opportunity Works Social Innovation Fund With Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential (LEAP), Annie E. Casey is making a $24 million investment to increase employment and educational opportunities for young people formerly involved with the foster and/or criminal justice systems. This includes promoting Jobs for the Future’s Back on Track and Jobs for America’s Graduates as well as regionally based collaborations in 10 areas.
- Aspen Institute: Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund Established in 2012, this is a multi-funder effort of over 30 foundations and individual donors to support 24 urban, rural, and tribal communities with multiyear grants to improve outcomes for opportunity youth.
- Forum for Youth Investment Though not focused exclusively on disconnected youth, the Forum for Youth Investment works with state and local leaders to support partnerships, policies, and direct service offerings to improve learning and engagement opportunities for all youth. The website includes research produced in-house on youth development, services, and engagement.
- Harris County, TX Dual Status Youth Initiative This is an early-stage but interesting effort to bring together child welfare, juvenile justice, and criminal justice agencies to better address needs of youth who have been involved in both the foster care and juvenile and/or criminal justice systems. The Houston Endowment financially backs this initiative.
- Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative This initiative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation supports efforts to ease the transition to adulthood for youth aging out of foster care, including the development of financial tools and an advocacy campaign, Success Beyond 18.
- Maricopa County, AZ, a large urban county in the Phoenix area, launched in 2012 a county- wide awareness campaign and set up a cross-sector coalition to address youth disconnection on multiple fronts. For example, the county obtained a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to prevent youth who are or have been incarcerated from becoming disconnected or returning to prison. Other coalition activities include participating in the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, focusing on high school completion, and organizing paid summer internships via public-private partnerships. Assessment is ongoing, but early results show a 30% decrease in youth disconnection rates.
- 100,000 Opportunities Initiative is a national effort with more than 50 leading companies working to galvanize local business communities to hire and advance disconnected youth. Started in 2015, the network has already met its original goal to hire 100,000 disconnected youth, providing employment to more than 170,000 of them in the past two years. It has set a new goal of hiring one million disconnected youth by 2021. The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions helps to support this momentum by leveraging a funders’ collaborative (Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund) and, along with Jobs for the Future, provides technical assistance to organizations helping young workers build skills, attain credentials, advance in their careers, and expand career pathways.