Youth Futures: Workforce Development and Educational Support to System-Involved Youth

Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) will serve as the coordinator for Youth Futures, a new multi-site program aimed at improving the long-term employment prospects of at-risk and justice-involved youth living in, or returning to high-crime, high-poverty communities in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and through collaborative partnerships with non-profit organizations in each city, Youth Futures will prepare program participants for success in the labor market by providing comprehensive, individualized case management services linked to workforce development and educational interventions, supports, and training programs.

Youth Futures will serve approximately 900 at-risk and juvenile justice-involved young people aged 14 and over. While Youth Futures will respond to local needs, all partner organizations will offer the following program components within a culture of safety, service, and life-long learning:

  • Workforce development: a five-part approach incorporating career assessments and planning, soft skill development, digital literacy training, Career and Technical Education (CTE) training programs that lead to industry-recognized certifications and workforce attachment interventions, such as internships and job placements;
  • Education: an individualized and accelerated pathway to reach graduation or diploma equivalency using academic assessments and planning, robust academic supports, and effective teaching strategies including contextual and blended learning approaches and literacy training;
  • Case management: comprehensive, intensive case management that identifies youth needs and develops individualized supports;
  • Mentoring: one-on-one and small group mentoring consistent with the evidence-based standards of recruitment, screening, training, matching, monitoring and support, and closure;
  • Restorative justice: service learning projects that embrace the three goals of the Balanced and Restorative Justice model: accountability, public safety, and competency;
  • Community-wide efforts to reduce crime and violence: collaboration with communities and system officials to assess and reduce community violence; and
  • Post-program support and follow-up: regular contact to continue for at least nine months after program completion to ensure program participants remain employed and in school.

As the coordinator for Youth Futures, CYJ will structure the program, select and contract with local providers in each city, provide implementation assistance, administer grant funds, and monitor program progress.

Why Youth Futures?

In an economy that demands a highly sophisticated and educated workforce, youth in the juvenile justice system often struggle academically and lack both the soft and technical skills needed to compete for a shrinking pool of jobs. By some estimates, more than half of young people in juvenile detention have not completed the eighth grade, and two-thirds of those leaving formal custody do not return to school. Meanwhile, the vast majority of today’s careers require both a high school diploma or equivalent and some postsecondary training.

System-involved youth also commonly present with needs across multiple life domains, such as education, employment, health care, mental health, substance abuse, peer and family relations, and housing that impair their ability to participate in the workforce. These needs are further complicated for those youth removed from their community and social supports during the key developmental phase of adolescence and placed in a facility (prison).

To establish a foundation for labor market success, Youth Futures will identify each youth’s academic strengths and challenges and develop an individualized and accelerated pathway to reach graduation or diploma equivalency. In addition, to aid in the overall well-being of its participants, Youth Futures will provide case management in a trauma-informed setting and other supports, such as mentoring, proven to be effective in improving adolescent self-efficacy and social competence and reducing problem behavior.

In addition to improving the long-term employment prospects of its participants, Youth Futures aims to strengthen local capacity for serving system-involved youth and serve as a model to be replicated in other high-crime, high-poverty communities across the country.

Additional information for organizations interested in applying for a Youth Futures sub-grant can be found here.

The Vera Institute of Justice seeks youth-serving non-profit organizations to operate Youth Futures (Deadline: November 4, 2013)

Overview

The Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) is seeking proposals from registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations to operate Youth Futures, a multi-site program that will serve juvenile offenders and youth at risk of offending in high-poverty, high-crime communities over a 33-month period in Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; and New Orleans, LA.

Vera has a total of $3.6 million available from which to make three sub-grant awards; one award will be made to a single nonprofit organization in each of the three cities noted above. Sub-recipients will operate programs for 24 months, from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2015, with an additional nine months of post-program support and follow-up to youth participants. Total awards, which cover the entire 33-month period, will range from $680,000 to $1,460,000, depending on the total number of youth required to be served in each city.

Organizations selected to operate Youth Futures must incorporate seven programmatic components to promote robust academic and career growth for all participating youth within a culture of safety, service and life-long learning. The components include workforce development, education, case management, mentoring, restorative justice projects, community-wide efforts to reduce crime and violence, and post-program support and follow-up (additional detail can be found in the RFP). Applicants may subcontract with other organizations to fulfill one or more of the program components. Vera will provide general operational support and training and substantive technical assistance to sub-recipients throughout the 33-month operational and follow-up period.

Applications are due by Monday, November 4th, 2013 at 11:59 pm and must be submitted to youthfutures@vera.org (Subject Line: Youth Futures Application – [insert city]). Award announcements will be made by early December.

Bidder’s Conference Information and Materials

The bidder’s conference for Youth Futures is scheduled for October 7th from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. EDT. Applicants interested in participating in the bidder’s conference can do so by calling (855) 212-0212 and entering in this passcode, 922-992-897.

Potential bidders may submit questions via email to Vidhya Ananthakrishnan (vananthakrishnan@vera.org). Responses to questions received by Thursday, October 3 at 3:00 p.m. EDT will be shared at the bidder’s conference. Potential bidders may also pose questions during the conference.

We will not respond via email to question submissions, but to ensure potential bidders receive responses to their questions in a timely manner we will post responses to questions submitted via email on this site at the following times:

  • Responses to questions submitted by 12pm EDT on Tuesday October 1st will be posted by 5:00pm EDT that same day;
  • Responses to questions submitted by 12pm EDT on Thursday October 3rd will be posted by 5:00pm EDT that same day; and
  • Responses to questions shared prior to and at the bidder’s conference on Monday, October 7th will be posted by 5:00 pm EDT on Wednesday October 9th.

After October 9th, we will update the list of responses to questions received from bidders twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays by 5 pm EDT  (through November 1st).

Answers to Questions from Prospective Youth Futures Bidders

Youth Futures Bidders Conference Presentation

For additional updates about the RFP process, please check this site and/or send an e-mail to Insiyah Mohammad at imohammad@vera.org (Subject Line: Youth Futures RFP Process Updates) with a contact person, organization name and address, and e-mail address. 

Application Materials

Youth Futures Request for Proposals

Appendices (includes key forms that must be submitted with application)

Youth Futures RFP Supplement (includes resources to assist in the application process)

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