In 2018 the City of San Antonio identified the need to serve approximately 30,000 to 35,000 opportunity youth. The term opportunity youth describes young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who are disconnected from education, work, and major social institutions. Current research from The Aspen Institute currently projects the number of opportunity youth in San Antonio to be at an estimated 75,000 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To support opportunity youth with reconnecting to education or career opportunities, the City of San Antonio Department of Human Services, in collaboration with Goodwill of San Antonio and Communities in Schools of San Antonio, opened the state’s first comprehensive youth re-engagement center in February of 2019. The three organizations operate in a collaborative effort to ensure participants have a seamless experience at the NXT LEVEL Youth Opportunity Center. When participants enroll at the NXT LEVEL Youth Opportunity Center, they are paired with an education and life coach to come up with a participant lead plan to to help them reach their goals while working to remove any life barriers.
In the fall of 2020, the City of San Antonio Department of Human Services conducted a qualitative study that emphasized youth voice to identified ways to improve processes and programs aimed at better supporting opportunity youth through their educational and career journeys. The data for this study was primarily collected by opportunity youth in peer-lead interviews who surveyed youth that utilized support programs in San Antonio.
To read the full report, Empowering Youth to be the Writers of Their Future: An Opportunity Youth Voice Report, please click here.