The CA EDGE Coalition is committed to addressing workforce shortages while creating pathways to good jobs and, historically, the focus of these efforts has been on adults. EDGE is proud to announce we are expanding our efforts to include opportunity youth (OY) and focusing a policy agenda that centers OY in workforce development, education, and training advocacy efforts.

Who are Opportunity Youth?

OY are individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 that are not in school or working, including youth and young adults involved with the foster care, juvenile justice, and homelessness systems of care. They face unique employment, education, and training barriers that often do not align with efforts that center adults. Opportunity youth facing socio-economic and systemic barriers are oftentimes disconnected from education and workforce training opportunities, preventing young people of color from accessing our state’s prosperity. Prioritizing opportunity youth will not only expand education and workforce opportunities for them, but also expand the pool of talent that employers can access to meet their workforce needs.

California EDGE Coalition’s 2022 Opportunity Youth Policy Agenda

The opportunity gaps that existed before the pandemic will only be exacerbated by the impacts of COVID-19 and will fall disproportionally on California’s OY. EDGE’s 2022 Opportunity Youth Policy Agenda seeks to develop and expand policies and investments that will prepare and support OY while also supporting the workforce needs of businesses.

  • Protect and increase funding for education and workforce training programs that center OY and create pathways to good jobs. Funding opportunities should also include leveraging dollars from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, such as the recently approved out-of-school youth federal waiver which allows local workforce boards more flexibility to support OY strategies. 
  • Expand innovative “earn and learn” opportunities, including apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships, and other work-based learning opportunities.
  • Advance policies and investments that remove barriers to OY participating in High Road Training Partnerships (HRTP), including opportunities to uplift OY within the Community Economic Resilience Fund planning process – intended to align regional workforce needs to HRTP. 
  • Advance the implementation of adult dual enrollment, which will allow OY to earn college credit while earning their high school equivalency.
  • Protect and expand social safety net investments for OY that support basic needs such as food, housing, internet access, transportation, childcare, and healthcare – enabling them to complete their education/training goals and thrive in today’s labor market.  
  • Engage in the development and implementation of California’s longitudinal data system to ensure the system considers the unique challenges and needs of OY. 
  • Remove barriers OY face when accessing financial aid for education and training programs.

Join us in Uplifting Opportunity Youth in California!

If you’re interested in joining our efforts to prioritize OY and eliminate systemic barriers keeping thousands of young people from accessing our state’s prosperity, you can take action today!

  1. Include OY in your organizations’ policy priorities and focus on policies and investments that uplift OY.
  2. Sign on to EDGE’s 2022 OY Policy Agenda – email llopez@caedge.org with your organization name and logo and your information will be recognized on our OY policy agenda.

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