College Bound Dorchester photo

Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative

Goal: Reduce the rate of youth disconnection from school and work

Banner Photo: Romana Vysatova and College Bound Dorchester

Convened by the Boston Opportunity Agenda and the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC), the Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC) works to reduce the rate of youth disconnection in the city. Most disconnected young adults in Boston already have a high school credential.

The OYC addresses gaps in postsecondary education and training pathways to high-quality careers, using systems change strategies and targeted program implementation. Initially a convening of more than 80 stakeholders working directly with opportunity youth, the OYC has evolved to a table of collective impact networks and institutional partners.


The Opportunity Youth Collaborative focuses on three core strategies:

Data 4 Impact (D4I) uses data dashboards as a continuous improvement tool for interventions designed to keep young people connected to school. In collaboration with the Boston Public Schools Office of Data & Accountability and the Office of Opportunity Youth, the OYC is building a set of data dashboards that track the effectiveness of chronic absentee interventions. 

The same data strategies are being applied at Bunker Hill Community College to track the effectiveness of interventions aimed at boosting the success of young men of color. The HOPE (Halting Oppressive Pathways in Education) Initiative,which brings together faculty and students of color in a learning community centered on anti-racism, is a key partner. HOPE Ambassadors are male students of color who poll fellow students and provide feedback to the college on policy and practice. 

Building strong, durable partnerships through a shared vision and shared activities is at the core of our strategy to improve career outcomes. The OYC leverages major institutions like the Boston Public Schools and Bunker Hill Community College to help build their capacity to deliver career pathways at scale. Given the importance of a college credential in Boston, our current pathway work focuses on leveraging the existing college coaching initiative, Success Boston. In addition to Success Boston college navigation coaches, the OYC’s HOPE Forward coaches work with HOPE to provide coaching to opportunity youth and young men of color at BHCC. PIC career coaches provide career exploration, planning, and employment support.

Throughout the pandemic, increases in mental health challenges for young people have been reported along with increased difficulty of finding appropriate care. Through the Healing Centered Organizing project, young leaders will organize and develop a mental health campaign. The five key elements of Healing Centered Organizing are: Engaging in critical analysis and fight for structural change, promoting physical and mental health, engaging in community building, ensuring youth leadership and ownership, and fostering relevance and meaning. The recommendations and vision of the young leaders will inform Launch, the OYC, and partner organizations on strategies to address the wellness needs of opportunity youth.

Steering Committee

Elizabeth Walczak
Boston Opportunity Agenda

Fernanda Queirós Campbell
Boston Opportunity Agenda

Kathy Hamilton
Boston Private Industry Council

Kedan Harris
Boston Public Schools

Brian Marques
Boston Public Schools

Marisa Colon
Angell Foundation

Arelene Vallie
Bunker Hill Community College

Evans Erilus
Bunker Hill Community College

Stephanie O’Shea
CollegeBound Dorchester

Amanda Shabowich
Launch, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

Laura Dziorny
Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy

Antoniya Marinova
Success Boston

Sam Zito
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

Tyra Anderson-Montina
Year Up

Don Sands
X-Cel Education

Katy Gall
Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development