Reengaging Disengaged Youth – through the Newark Opportunity Youth Network

The Opportunity Youth Network (OYN) is a public-private partnership that launched in 2016 with the mission of helping Newark thrive by reconnecting young people ages 16 to 24 who are not in school and not working. Its strategy for reconnecting these youth and helping them to succeed involves (1) a Reengagement Center that serves as a hub for reconnecting youth; (2) expanding and better coordinating alternative education options; (3) bringing together community leaders to improve youth-related policy; (4) promoting data-sharing to coordinate services and promote accountability; and (5) collecting feedback from youth on their needs to improve every aspect of OYN’s operations.

The evaluation covered three overarching themes:

  • Experiences and perceptions of participating Youth;
  • Participant achievement outcomes; and
  • Challenges and implications of findings.

As described in the full study report, the findings from the evaluation have several generalizable implications for how our educational institutions can best serve youth from all backgrounds, but particularly those youth from minority and/or low-income households:

  • Positive relationships with adults within the school setting is a key factor to student success;
  • A single point of failure in many at-risk students’ educational trajectory is the middle school school experience; and
  • Program application and enrollment data indicate that there is far more demand for Newark OYN services than there are available seats.