El Dorado County wins bid to help youth, young adults succeed

Goal is to get everyone “Ready by 21, Credentialed by 26”

A partnership of educators from Folsom Lake College’s El Dorado Center, the El Dorado County Office of Education and the Western Slope Boys and Girls Club in El Dorado County has won a competitive bid to launch a new effort to improve services for youth and young adults.

The Forum for Youth Investment, a nonprofit “action tank” based in Washington, chose the El Dorado County partnership as one of four communities nationwide to participate in the “Ready by 21, Credentialed by 26 Challenge.” The selected communities will develop goals and plans to increase supports for older youth, with an emphasis on helping more low-income, minority and first-generation college-goers obtain post-secondary credentials with labor market value.

The El Dorado County partnership  — along with Montgomery County, Md.; Broward County, Fla.; and Sonoma County, Calif. — will carry out the challenge by implementing the forum’s “Ready by 21” strategies, which help communities around the country improve the odds that all of their youth will be “ready for college, work, and life.” Those strategies include aligning and coordinating the work of all of the “stakeholders” in the community (including public, private and nonprofit agencies), agreeing on specific goals for all children and youth, establishing measurable outcomes to gauge progress toward those goals and using data to adopt effective policies and practices.

“We chose El Dorado County because it demonstrated a real commitment to more intentionally supporting young adult transitions, especially into post secondary success,” said Nicole Yohalem, who oversees the challenge as the forum’s director of special projects. “Ensuring adult success requires broadening our thinking about how we help young people — beyond the classroom, beyond the school day, beyond academics and beyond the age of 18.”

“We’re excited about the opportunity afforded by the challenge to broadly engage our community to prepare young residents of El Dorado County to complete a program of training and take their place as involved citizens in our community. We believe this program can help us better prepare our young adults to make their own unique economic, social, and civic contributions to life in the county,” said Dale van Dam, dean of the El Dorado Center of Folsom Lake College, which will serve as the lead agency on the project.

El Dorado County will receive training, coaching, tools, facilitation support, networking opportunities and a $5,000 grant from the forum to do three things between March and August 2011:

  • Collect information about the status of young adults, supports available for older youth transitions to adulthood and the community’s capacity to increase post-secondary completion rates.
  • Engage key stakeholders, including young people, in focused dialogue about barriers to successful transitions and necessary supports.
  • Identify short- and long-term opportunities to increase supports and build community capacity.

Several “Ready by 21” national partners — including Corporate Voices for Working Families, National Collaboration for Youth, American Association of School Administrators and United Way Worldwide — will support the effort by sharing their constituents’ perspectives through tools and research.

Learn more about the “Ready by 21, Credentialed by 26” challenge at forumfyi.org/files/CB26_0.pdf. Learn more about “Ready by 21” at  readyby21.org.

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Posted by on Mar 29 2011.
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