Media Highlights

Online Tool for the Opportunity Youth Movement

by Alison Beth Waldman   •  

We all know that the economy is in a tough place for millions of Americans, with stagnating wages and upward mobility. The latest jobs numbers are disheartening. If you’re up on research like Opportunity Road and the 2013 Opportunity Index then you know that young people are being hit especially hard. In fact, 1 in 7 young people ages 16 to 24—nearly 6 million kids—are currently out of school and unemployed.

The consequences for these young people and their families are severe, as are the costs to our nation as a whole. We’re missing out on the talents of millions of young people at a time when we have serious shortages of skilled workers.

There’s a lot of information flying around about these “disconnected” or “opportunity youth.” There are hundreds of statistics, research, reports, multimedia and toolkits produced by experts in the field. But it often takes valuable energy and time to find exactly what you need for your work.

SparkAction manages ALL IN for YOUth, a central networked platform for the opportunity youth movement. This platform serves as the online hub and primary online communications vehicle to promote the activities and impact of organizations focused on opportunity youth, carrying on the legacy of the White House Council for Community Solutions which did much to elevate the profile of disconnected youth.

ALL IN for YOUth builds on the SparkOpportunity Challenge which SparkAction ran to bring attention to young people’s solutions for rebuilding pathways to opportunity. SparkAction worked with Jon Bon Jovi and 40 leading national organizations to develop the challenge in support of the White House Council for Community Solutions. More than 100 young people submitted videos detailing their ideas—ranging from start-ups to social entrepreneurship projects and ideas to transform schools and afterschool time—and tens of thousands of people voted for their favorites. The ten winners, who were announced in-person at the White House Youth Summit in June 2012, each received technology, small start-up grants and pairing with a mentor to help them make their dream a reality.

The ALL IN for YOUth hub publishes and promotes vetted, best-in-class news and information from organizations in the field. With SparkAction’s 150+ national partners, we mobilize our active online community to take action on pressing youth issues through social media, zip code-activated action alerts, campaigns and crowdsourcing contests for youth to share their ideas.

And, most importantly, the field’s best resources are syndicated with youth voices and stories of opportunity youth on the path to success thanks to innovative programs and partnerships.

Turning Momentum to Impact

At its core, ALL IN is about lifting up and amplifying the voices of opportunity youth and empowering them to transform their lives, their communities and our nation. By engaging youth directly in challenges that empower them to identify and pursue solutions and highlighting the innovative work of the organizations that serve them, ALL IN supports authentic opportunities for young people to be heard and to take action.   

The economic, social, physical and civic disadvantages resulting from disconnection from education and the workforce are well understood. Less well-considered is the degree to which disconnection effectively silences young people and isolates their needs, perspectives and ideas from public discourse. This is especially damaging and out-of-touch when that public discourse is about them and the supports they need to reconnect.  

ALL IN for YOUth provides opportunity youth, their peers, the organizations that serve them with the communications tools, engagement opportunities, and network to identify, communicate, and pursue solutions that work. It reaches from grassroots to the grasstops by engaging opportunity youth directly through crowdsourced challenges in partnership with high-profile champions like Jon Bon Jovi.

As experts in online engagement, SparkAction is thrilled to partner with Opportunity Nation and the members of the Opportunity Youth Network to advance the movement to reconnect opportunity youth to pathways to success.  

Alison Beth Waldman

Editorial Associate, Spark Action

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