From 2015 to 2016, the Forum for Youth Investment helped the Coalition develop common language and a more thorough understanding of the challenges facing Opportunity Youth, and they helped develop a strategy for the work ahead. For a complete report of the planning process and conclusions, see the Flint Final Report.

The Coalition is working to advance two major initiatives:

Long-Term Project – Enhance a Re-Engagement Center for Flint & Genesee County Opportunity Youth

Flint & Genesee County are currently served by ReMix Genesee, through Mott Community College. The navigation service is designed to connect young people to education, employment, and everything else they might need to succeed. In partnership with Mott Community College and ReMix, the Flint & Genesee Opportunity Youth Coalition is working to benchmark re-engagement efforts in other communities throughout the community and develop resources and partnerships that enhance our local re-engagement center and their capacity to best reach the nearly 10,000 opportunity youth in Genesee County.

To advance this effort, the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce developed a business plan for a Re-Engagement Center in Flint.

Are you interested in helping with this initiative? Feel free to contact Kristina Johnston, to be a part of the working group that is moving this initiative forward.

Short-Term Project – Support existing programs, events, and activities that help connect Opportunity Youth to the services they need

Flint & Genesee County are home to many important programs, events, and activities that serve the opportunity youth population. The group has decided to focus promotion efforts on pre-employment training and job fairs or employment opportunities for 2017. As such, a schedule of training workshops and job fairs is under development. If your organization offers training or has an upcoming job opportunity for a young person that you would like promoted, contact Kristina Johnston.

The Events & Activities team has developed a two-pronged approach to recruitment that includes both accessing hard-to-reach young people, as well as attracting employers in need of workers.

Recruiting Opportunity Youth
In an effort to reach young people who are often disconnected from traditional marketing forums and reluctant to participate in workshops and job fairs, the Coalition is partnering with WOW Outreach to develop “Street Teams” that canvas target neighborhoods and find opportunity youth “where they are.” In addition to their promotion efforts, these teams (which will consist of trusted young people) will develop relationships, bridge gaps between the audience and service-providers, and identify barriers to participation that organizers can help overcome.

Recruiting Employers
Once a young person is recruited, there needs to be a job opportunity available in order to keep them engaged and on a career pathway. As a result the group is working to identify existing partner connections to the for-profit sector, as well as collect and compile employer feedback and recruitment strategies. While the group is moving forward on concrete short-term employer recruitment, it is also determined to resolve systemic hiring challenges and practices that might prevent opportunity youth from being employed.

Other Progress

Additional efforts to support the work of the Coalition include the collection of qualitative and quantitative data.

Youth Engagement
The Flint & Genesee Opportunity Youth Coalition is committed to proactively engaging young people both in providing feedback, as well as supporting the implementation of strategies. To that end, WOW Outreach will be establishing a calendar of engagement opportunities for 2016-2017. These events will pose strategic questions to young people and encourage their support as advocates, recruiters, and partners in moving initiatives forward. Young people interested in becoming paid Youth Ambassadors should call (810) 789-7700. To stay up-to-date about activities and job opportunities join the OpportunityFlintandGenesee Facebook page.

Opportunity Youth Data and Fiscal Scan
The University of Michigan-Flint recently supported the Coalition by compiling a report of Opportunity Youth statistics and teh the federal funds coming into Genesee County that do, or could, impact local Opportunity Youth. This report with also identify federal programs and grant opportunities that we currently don’t receive, but should pursue to sustain initiatives that benefit Opportunity Youth. View the report.