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New workforce center to connect youth with Boston jobs

Posted on July 31, 2015

The creation of a new workforce center is set to help youth find Boston jobs.

The Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative has launched the Connection Center, a one-stop resource to help Boston high school graduates, 20-24 years old, who are unemployed and out of school with no postsecondary degree. The Connection Center, located inside the Ruggles MBTA station, will work to reach out to these young adults and refer them to education, training and employment opportunities throughout the Greater Boston.

The Connection Center is a local option within the national movement to promote opportunities and pathways for the 6.7 million young people between the ages of 16 and 24 in the United States who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market. These young people are often referred to as Opportunity Youth. The “opportunity” is the chance to include their talents and contributions in a labor market that needs them as an entire older generation begins to retire.

The Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC) is a cross-sector coalition, convened by the Boston Opportunity Agenda and the Boston Private Industry Council, with more than 70 member organizations and agencies. Stakeholders include the Mayor’s Office, Boston Public Schools, philanthropy, local colleges, universities and community-based organizations.

The coalition came together to develop and implement a plan for connecting opportunity youth with pathways to career and financial independence. The OYC’s final plan included a Connection Center as the first point of entry to community-based programs that would support young people in pursuing community college, job training and employment. Connection Center coaches will help young people navigate these pathways, which often prove challenging to those unfamiliar with the requirements of college, training or work.

These coaches will engage young people, assess their needs and make supported referrals to the right programs. Participating organizations include College Bound Dorchester and Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (college bridging and completion programs), Jewish Vocational Service (pharmacy technician training), the Asian American Civic Association (employment services), as well as Year Up, YouthBuild and other agencies.

The OYC is one of seven community collaboratives across the country receiving three-year grants to implement their plans. The awards were made by Jobs for the Future and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Service as part of the Opportunity Works initiative, funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service through its Social Innovation Fund (SIF). Local match funding is being provided by the Barr Foundation, the Boston Foundation, the Hyams Foundation and the Lloyd G. Balfour Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee. The OYC is contracting with X-Cel Education, a dynamic nonprofit organization, to operate the center in space provided by Northeastern University, the MBTA and JRI/STRIVE Boston.