Improving Postsecondary Outcomes for Opportunity Youth

Emerging Leader Fellow: Amber Wool, 2017-2019

The Challenge: By 2018, an estimated 63% of all jobs will require some education beyond high school, and yet significant disparities in postsecondary achievement persist in Philadelphia. In particular, opportunity youth – young people ages 16-to-24 who are neither in school nor working – who have been successful at reengaging and completing their diplomas continue to face significant barriers to achieving postsecondary success.

The Project: To increase postsecondary attainment among opportunity youth, Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) has led the implementation of the evidence-based “Back on Track” program model at its E3 Power Centers in Philadelphia. The program involves strong academic and social supports, “postsecondary bridging” services that build college- and career-ready skills, and follow-up with participants after they transition to postsecondary programming. During her Emerging Leader Fellowship, Amber will work closely with PYN staff to infuse the most effective elements of the model throughout Philadelphia’s youth-serving systems and to promote broader policy reforms with the potential to expand postsecondary access for opportunity youth.

This Emerging Leader Fellowship will enable Amber to:

  • Analyze the implementation of the “Back on Track” model in Philadelphia by synthesizing program implementation data and conducting interviews with program staff, students, and alumni.
  • Lead the development of a revised “Postsecondary Bridging Action Plan” for the city. The plan will be generated in collaboration with key stakeholders from Project U-Turn, a multi-sector collaborative designed to increase the graduation rate and prepare young people for success beyond high school.
  • Ensure that practice changes are implemented and sustained, by documenting progress made on the action plan and making recommendations for next steps to continue the work.