Improving Postsecondary Outcomes for Opportunity Youth

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. One group of young people who continue to lag behind their peers in college access are “opportunity youth,” 16-to-24-year-olds who are neither in school nor working.

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. The program involves strong academic and social supports, “postsecondary bridging” services that build college- and career-ready skills, and follow-up supports to participants after they transition to postsecondary programming.

Through her Emerging Leader Fellowship, Amber Wool is working 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 making recommendations for next steps to continue the work.
Amber Wool's Headshot

Amber Wool, MSW

Emerging Leader Fellow

2017 - 2019

Philadelphia Youth Network