Disconnected Youth

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Opportunities for Youth provides outreach for 16-24 year old who are out of school and not working. They announced new standards to make sure every young adult has the skills needed to finish their education and meet their long term goals. Tim Valencia, City of Phoenix Youth and Education manager and Tamela Franks, executive director for Opportunity for Youth talk about the standards.

JOSE: OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH PROVIDES OUT REACH FOR 16 TO 24 YEAR OLDS WHO ARE OUT OF SCHOOL AND NOT WORKING. RECENTLY THEY ANNOUNCED NEW STANDARDS TO MAKE SURE EVERY YOUNG ADULT HAS THE SKILLS NEEDED TO FINISH THEIR EDUCATION AND MEET THEIR LONG TERM GOALS. HERE TO TALK ABOUT THIS ARE TIM VALENCIA, CITY OF PHOENIX YOUTH AND EDUCATION MANAGER. AND TAMELA FRANKS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. WE TALKED ABOUT THIS SUBJECT ON THE SHOW BUT IT HAS BEEN A COUPLE YEARS. GIVE US A QUICK SUMMARY OF THE SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM THAT YOU GUYS ARE TRYING TO ADDRESS.

TAMELA FRANKS: YEAH, SO, BACK IN 2013 MEASURES OF AMERICA NAMED PHOENIX AS NUMBER ONE FOR OPPORTUNITY FOR YOUTH 16 TO 24 OUT OF SCHOOL AND OUT OF WORK. WE ARE LOOKING AT ABOUT 92,000 AND 95,000 YOUTH IN MARICOPA COUNTY WHO ARE OUT OF SCHOOL AND OUT OF WORK CURRENTLY.

JOSE: NOW THE STANDARDS WE WILL TALK ABOUT IN A MOMENT ARE NEW BUT PHOENIX AND THE SURROUNDING AREA YOU HAVE BEEN TRYING TO DEAL WITH THIS PROBLEM SINCE IT WAS IDENTIFIED.

TAMELA FRANKS: ABSOLUTELY. SO A NUMBER OF LEADERS IN THE BUSINESS SECTOR, GOVERNMENT, EDUCATION AND THE NON PROFIT SECTORS GOT TOGETHER SAYING THEY WANTED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE PROBLEM. THEY ARE WORKING WITH MAJOR ORGANIZATIONS LIKE STARBUCKS AND CHIPOTLE TALKING ABOUT GETTING OPPORTUNITY YOUTH JOBS AND BACK TO WORK AND SCHOOL.

JOSE: PART OF IT IS FINDING THEM AND GETTING IN TOUCH WITH THEM BECAUSE SOME OF THESE KIDS ARE LIVING ON THE STREET.

TAMELA FRANKS: THEY ARE. THEY ARE ALL DIFFERENT PLACES. THEY ARE INVISIBLE IN PLAIN SIGHT. IT IS DIFFICULT TO OUTREACH TO THE YOUTH, GET THEM TO COME TO A CENTER, AND GET REENGAGED. REENGAGEMENT CENTERS ARE LOOKING SPECIFICALLY WITH OUTREEACH AS ONE OF THE QUALITY STANDARDS.

JOSE: TIM, WE ARE TALKING ABOUT STANDARDS BUT THE PROGRAMS HAVE BEEN IN EFFECT FOR A FEW YEARS. HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING ON THIS FOR SOME TIME?

TIM VALENCIA: THE CITY OF PHOENIX OPENED THE FIRST CENTER ABOUT A YEAR AND HALF AGO. YOUTH CAN COME IN BETWEEN THE AGE OF 16 AND ABOVE WHO ARE NOT ENGAGED IN EDUCATION TO REENGAGE AND SPECIFICALLY IN EDUCATION WE HAVE ONLINE HIGH SCHOOL SERVICES, CREDIT RECOVERY. WE LOOK AT THE STUDENT AND SEE WHAT THE BEST OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE TO THEM TO GET THEIR EDUCATION AND ULTIMATELY BE SELF SUFFICIENT.

JOSE: ARE THE STANDARDS BASED IN PART ON WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED N LAST TWO YEARS?

TIM VALENCIA: YES. IT IS WHAT WE LEARNED. WE TALK ABOUT OUTREACH AND SPECIFICALLY WITH OPPORTUNITIES TO YOUTH. THIS REQUIRES STAFF THAT IS WILLING TO GO ON THE STREET TO BUILD REPORTE WITH THE STUDENTS IT IS ABOUT GOING OUT AND SPEAKING TO THEM WHERE THEY ARE AT AND GET THEM REENGAGED. THEY WILL NOT JUST WALK OFF THE STREET INTO A CENTER. WE ARE CALLING THEM REENGAGEMENT CENTERS BUT A LOT OF WORK IS DONE IN THE COMMUNITY.

JOSE: WILL PEOPLE BE CERTIFIED? ORGANIZES GO THROUGH AN APPLICATION PROCESS?

TIM VALENCIA: ABSOLUTELY. WE ARE THE FIRST IN THE COUNTRY. ORGANIZATIONS LIKE NATIONAL LEAD THE CITY IS EXCITED. COMMUNITY BASED CEO'S ANNOUNCED THEY ARE ON BOARD. ORGANIZEATIONS LIKE TUMBLE WEED, AND FRIENDLY HOUSE AND OTHERS ARE COMING FORWARD SAYING WE WILL ADOPT THE STANDARDS, CREATE REENGAGEMENT CENTERS AND MAKE SURE WE ARE ADDRESSING THE 1 IN 5 PROBLEM WE HAVE LOCALLY.

JOSE: WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN THIS?

TAMELA FRANKS: WHAT WE ARE DOING IS WE ARE NOT A YOUTH PROVIDER. WE ARE CONVENING ALL OF THE EXPERTS TO DEVELOP STANDARDS AND PROCESS THE SIMPLE PROCEDURES WE AGREE ON THAT ARE NEEDED IN THE COMMUNITY SO WE CAN PROBABLY REENGAGE THE YOUTH.

JOSE: SOME OF IT IS TRAINING?

TAMELA FRANKS: THE QUALITY STANDARDS ARE ASSESSMENT. THEY WILL ASSESS THEMSELVES OF WHERE THEY ARE ON THE CONTINUUM OF THE QUALITY STANDARDS WE ARE PUTTING FORTH. IF THEY DON'T MEET THE STANDARDS OR ARE IN A PLACE WHERE THEY CANNOT BE A FULL SERVICE REENGAGEMENT CENTER BUT MAYBE RESOURCE OR PARTNER WE WILL PROVIDE SERVICES AND TRAINING TO HELP THEM BUILD CAPACITY SO THEY CAN BECOME A FULL SERVICE REENGAGEMENT CENTER.

JOSE: HOW DO ORGANIZATIONS GET INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS?

TIM VALENCIA: LOOK AT OPPORTUNITIESFORYOUTH.ORG. THAT IS THE ORGANIZATION TAMELA WORKS FOR AND WE WILL HAVE THE APPLICATION ON THERE. WE ARE LOOKING TO GET VETTED AND GO STATE WIDE. WE ARE LOOKING AT IMPROVING THE QUALITY AND HOW WE ARE WORKING WITH DISCONNECTED YOUTH OR OPPORTUNITY YOUTH BECAUSE THEY NEED HELP TO REACH THE SELF SUFFICIENCY MARK. THAT IS OUR MAIN GOAL.

JOSE: THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US ON HORIZONTE.

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