On April 13, more than 500 young adults, parents, employers, workforce professionals, service providers, educators, funders, community members and elected leaders attended the inaugural Flip the Script summit at the Jacobs Center to address the 43,000 young people in San Diego County who are not in school or not working. These are opportunity youth.
Envisioned by the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP), the summit aimed to change the story from “disconnection” to “opportunity.” When we engage young people through jobs, school and community, we all win. When we don’t, the long-term impact is devastating on every level.
SDWP released a research report detailing who are San Diego County’s opportunity youth. Based upon the information learned from the report, SDWP announced a “BHAG,” a big hairy audacious goal, to reduce the number of opportunity youth by 10,800 and to close the gap so that no neighborhood is more than 4.4% above the countywide disconnection rate by 2020.
The day-long program was designed to keep the young adult experience at the center of the conversation — from MovementBE kicking things off with spoken word performances to a panel conversation between former opportunity youth and systems leaders to more than 60 young adults moderating the afternoon session where each table participated in developing an action plan that would achieve the BHAG.
The young adults who participated received certificates of recognition for youth advocacy from Representative Susan Davis and State Controller Betty Yee. A few days after the event, the SDWP team visited with Representative Davis to discuss the research findings and how policy might be able to address the challenges faced by opportunity youth. C2C senior peer job coach Naomi Moore shared her personal story with Representative Davis and how programs helped reconnect her to school and work.
“Programs change lives, but systems, structures and policies transform communities,” says Andy Hall, SDWP Chief Operating Officer. “Now it’s time to build on the momentum, harness the power of youth voice and act on the strategies the collective identified to cut the rate and half the gap by 2020.”
Videos of the morning sessions are available at uctv.tv/careers:
Following the conference, the San Diego Union-Tribune published an op-ed, San Diego must do more for disconnected youth, co-authored by SDWP CEO Peter Callstrom, San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten and San Diego Continuing Education President Carlos O. Turner Cortez. Additional media coverage on the issue included:
- There are more 16- to 24-year-olds not working or in school in San Diego than you might think
- Youth job placement program gets big boost
- Report: 43,000 Young People Not Working Or Going To School In San Diego County
Stay tuned for the release of the action plan coming soon.