Opportunity Reboot is part of our Economic Opportunity focus area. Opportunity Reboot mobilizes public and private resources to sustain and grow the work of organizations creating career pathways for opportunity youth, youth who are disconnected from education and employment. Training and technical support are provided to help organizations bridge best practices in youth development and workforce development in order to more effectively create pathways to school, career, and life success.
The program began in 2015, when Youthprise secured funding from state and federal agencies to increase employment opportunities for young people across Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Office of Youth Development, Search Institute, and MENTOR Minnesota are key partners in the initiative.
Primary funding was provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service, who awarded Youthprise with a $3 million Social Innovation Fund grant for three years. Youthprise matched the amount with local funds and selected six organizations to implement the Opportunity Reboot model, which aims at increasing career pathways for opportunity youth in Minnesota.
Opportunity Reboot addresses the economic challenges confronting young people and is one solution to the persistent racial disparities in our state. While the Twin Cities ranks #1 among the largest 25 metro areas for the proportion of adults working, the Twin Cities ranks 23 out of 25 for the largest employment gap between White and Black residents.
The long term goals of Opportunity Reboot are to holistically support young people to sustain living wage employment, achieve stable housing, establish a web of social capital, and to contribute to their community.
Recent Updates & COVID-19 Response
Opportunity youth need our support more than ever during this challenging time.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Opportunity Reboot has been focused on systems change that promotes the wellbeing of opportunity youth and supports their paths to success. We have compiled a list of policy and legislative changes that can be implemented to better their futures and the future of Minnesota as a whole.
- Strike the Unemployment Statute (Statute 268.085; Sub. 2) that Disqualifies Enrolled High School Youth. Align with other states who allow enrolled high school and college young people to receive benefits if they meet all the other criteria.
- Provide Additional Funding to Alternative Schools (School codes 41, 42, or 43). As the average age of students is 18, open up a new funding line to supplement the compensatory aid denied to schools that chose to serve those over 18. As the economy changes, this additional funding can be used to supplement technology and engagement/re-engagement coordinators.
- Commit to an Education Recovery Plan that will responsibly and responsively put PK-12 and post-secondary learners back into classrooms and on track toward their academic goals.
- Restore Pell Grants to Incarcerated Students. Even before the current crisis, these individuals were likely to face significant obstacles to postsecondary education and employment upon returning to their communities.
- Support the Expansion of Broadband Access. Increased funding for broadband access programs would help students transition to online and remote education, especially in rural and exurban areas.
- Allow High School Students to Co-Enroll with Pathways to Prosperity (P2P) Funded Career Pathways. Change P2P policy to allow a co-enrollment model similar to PSEO. This enables young people to be truly ready to enter the workforce with requisite skills after high school graduation.
- Waive the TABE assessment requirements for recent high school or GED graduates. Build a recency clause that enables those who have earned a high school degree or GED within the last two years to waive the TABE requirement.
- Seek a Youth (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) WIOA Waiver. Expand the Youth WIOA waiver submitted by Minnesota for young people experiencing homelessness to include all “at-risk” students as defined by Minnesota Statute 124D.68. Ask for the in-school population, as defined by 124D.68, rise to 50% of the youth served by Youth WIOA.
Access To Flexible Funding
- Remove Barriers to College Matriculation. Establish a “First Choice” fund to cover standardized test fees, college application fees, and enrollment fees for Minnesota’s low-income and first-generation college students through 2022.
Research and Results
In partnership with Search Institute, Youthprise evaluated the 5 years of Opportunity Reboot on its effectiveness in creating pathways to school, career, and life success for opportunity youth. The Opportunity Reboot model was evaluated on its success expanding program services and integrating a systemic focus on four key components:
- Integrated Positive Mentoring Relationships
- Responsive Individualized Goal Supports
- Coordinated Career Pathways
- Impactful Cross-Sector Partnerships
- Youth between the ages of 14 and 24 who are either homeless, in foster care, involved in the juvenile justice system, or disconnected from school and work.
- Education programming to ensure youth obtain a high school diploma or GED
- Enrolling/co-enrolling youth in post-secondary programs relevant to their career interest;
- Providing supportive services to ensure basic needs are met that support education/career goals; and
- Helping youth secure industry-recognized credentials in high demand local industries.
Outcomes since Launching in 2016:
- Served 1,449 youth;
- Placed 634 youth in jobs;
- Provided support for 337 youth that have retained employment for over 6 months; and
- Provided credentials or certification in high-demand industries for 492 youth.
- 6.4 Million total invested!
Three-year grant to support culturally competent employment and educational programs and wraparound services for 44 to 65 homeless youth at Prior Crossing, a youth housing facility in Saint Paul, MN.
Youth were provided with 1) a safe and supportive housing environment, 2) youth development programming, 3) culturally-competent, strengths-based case management, 4) connections to educational opportunities, 5) workforce development training, and 6) facilitated connections to employment and internship opportunities.
Three-year grant to scale up a YouthBuild model for over 100 participants from Saint Paul’s West Side, Dayton’s Bluff, Payne-Phalen, and Greater East Side neighborhoods. GAP’s YouthBuild program supports young adults’ (ages 18-24) lives by giving them the tools and credentials needed to achieve school, career, and life success. The program provided comprehensive wraparound services along with secondary and post-secondary education, workforce preparation, and credentialing. In addition, participants had access to academic and social-emotional supports in-house, and from partnerships with multiple community agencies and education institutions.
Three-year grant to develop and implement a collaborative model for secondary students who are disconnected from school and education, and thus, at risk of dropping out. The project implemented the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training Model (I-BEST) to serve 166 young people age 14-20, all of whom are economically disadvantaged and/or disconnected from school, 50% of who are from communities of color and 25% who have disabilities. Partnering organization staff worked collaboratively with school staff to provide mentoring, authentic internship experiences, and career guidance support.
Three-year grant to launch the “Tri-City Bridges to the Future” initiative, a new collaborative in Faribault, Red Wing, and Northfield, including the MN Correctional Facility-Red Wing. The initiative offered career pathways approaches for 85 youth ages 14-24 in the three cities who are in foster care; involved in the juvenile justice system; are homeless; and/or are disconnected from school and work. The primary focus was high school completion with dual enrollment options through partnerships with area higher education institutions and postsecondary training in career clusters that have clear pathways to higher degrees.
Three-year grant to support the Green Jobs Pathway that will involve 60 disconnected Indian youth per year to receive education, training, supports, and experiences needed to prepare them to become financially independent, self-determining adults. The project utilized the Back On Track model developed by Jobs for the Future to create a career pathway for American Indian youth to discover their cultural role as caretakers of the Earth, develop strong workplace skills, learn through their experience, and complete postsecondary coursework and credentials of value to secure living-wage jobs as they build a career in the Green Economy.
Three-year grant for a partnership between SOAR, Life House, the Duluth Workforce Center, Adult Basic Education, ISD 709, Lake Superior College and Woodland Hills. This project increased employment readiness skills for Opportunity Youth aged 16-24 through stabilization supports (i.e. mental health, chemical dependency health, housing, food, clothing), relationship building, career exploration services, work experiences, soft-skills training, self-awareness trainings, education, and employment opportunities. This project also incorporated transitional and traditional employment readiness models in order to meet the individualized needs of youth.
Amherst H. Wilder Foundation
Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative
City of Minneapolis/STEP-UP Discover
DEED Equity Funds
Duluth-Superior Area Community Foundation
Essentia Health Corporate Contributions
F.R. Bigelow Foundation
Faribault Public Schools
Hugh J. Anderson Foundation
Katherine B. Andersen Fund of the Saint Paul Foundation
Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation Minnesota Office of Higher Education
The McKnight Foundation
Minnesota State Funds
Minnesota Youth Intervention Program Grant
Northfield Area United Way
Northfield Healthy Community Initiative
Northfield Public Schools General Fund
Northwest Area Foundation
Open Your Heart
Rice County Family Services Collaborative
The Saint Paul Foundation
Sauk Rapids-Rice School District
State of Minnesota
Transitional Employment Program
United Way - Head of the Lakes
Workforce Development Inc.
Current Nutrition Hub Sites (Last updated 5/1/2020)
To join this success story:
Donate to Youthprise or other participating organizations, by contributing dollars or volunteering.
Sign up for updates to stay in the loop!
Spread the word and share with your networks about the collective work we are accomplishing.
Encourage and support this movement through public and private funding.
Share the Opportunity Reboot program, model, and results to support more young people.
Think differently about collaboration, evaluation, and leveraging existing resources.
Make evaluation a practice and not an afterthought in your work.
Mentor a young person by practicing a mentoring mindset with all youth you encounter and/or through more formal mentoring channels such as Mentor MN.
Talk to your legislatures and other stakeholders about opportunity youth so we can amplify the voices of the marginalized and disconnected.
Let’s stop using “at-risk” language and help shift the narrative about these young people and their potential!