By Nikki Holland-Plum, JVA Consulting
Recently, JVA participated in an important project to learn more about Denver’s “opportunity youth”—young people ages 16–24 who are out of school and out of work. The Denver’s Opportunity Youth Collaborative Community Forum took place on March 17, 2014 at Mile High United Way. Hosted by Rose Community Foundation, the forum brought together leaders in youth development to discuss opportunity youth in Denver.
Leading up to the forum, JVA had been commissioned by Rose Community Foundation and the Denver Opportunity Youth Collaborative to conduct an environmental scan to get a deeper understanding of Denver’s opportunity youth. JVA’s Janine Vanderburg, Laura Morales and Marissa Jaross attended the forum and presented the findings of the scan. There are an estimated 9,850 opportunity youth in Denver. While Denver has more than 180 organizations providing critical youth development services, it was determined in the scan there is a need for a system to coordinate these programs and connect the youth to employers.
According to JVA’s Laura Morales, “The research process was very enlightening. From the interviews and online surveys with opportunity youth providers to assessment of the youth in need of these services through focus groups, the project team was able to get a full picture of how many providers truly care about these youth. We also see where our community can continue to grow in creating opportunities for our young people.”
At the event, Mayor Michael Hancock said, “I think this city ought to be the best city in the world when it comes to youth development.” We agree. With so many incredible organizations providing services for our youth, and a cadre of community leaders rallying in support of them and our youth, our community’s opportunity youth will be able to make the connections in life that they need to succeed and pursue their dreams.
To read JVA’s report, visit Rose Community Foundation’s website here.