Story of Impact: Enrolling Adams County’s Most-Vulnerable Young People in Post-Secondary Programs

Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU), Front Range Community College, and Adams County Workforce and Business Center have partnered to offer a unique summer employment opportunity that doubles as both a Summer Bridge Program and provides Intrusive Advising for students who are enrolling to attend either of the campuses. This effort targets students at risk of melting off over the summer.

Over the last two years, 86% of the youth who participated in the program are students of color, many of which were also low-income.

An Adams County College Works Scholar experiences a summer of exposure to MSU Denver or Front Range Community College by working in an on-campus job that often pertains to their major or field of study. In addition to employment, scholars expand their perspective by participating in workshops led by Peer Mentors that will complement their professional development and first year preparation. Students have access to resources that equip them to enter college generally feeling prepared and ready to further their education.

The MSU Denver Team supports College Works students throughout their post-secondary journeys.

Over the last two years, this partnership has worked to increase post-secondary enrollment of students at risk of melting off over the summer. The team has started off with small cohorts to ensure that this intervention would work for their target population: low-income youth qualifying for Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) who are at risk of melting off over the summer, particularly students of color.

WIOA eligible youth are members of one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to enrollment in a post-secondary opportunity: opportunity youth. Opportunity youth are young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the workforce. There are currently 4.6 million opportunity youth in the United States. Targeting opportunity youth is key – the personal and public costs of not changing the trajectories of opportunity youth is estimated at $6.3 trillion dollars over the lifetimes of all current opportunity youth.

The personal and public costs of not changing the trajectories of opportunity youth is estimated at $6.3 trillion dollars over the lifetimes of all current opportunity you.

WIOA eligible youth often face multiple barriers along their journeys from Cradle to Career, including socio-economic struggles, homelessness or housing insecurity, disability, basic skills deficiency, English language learner, involvement with the justice system, foster care, pregnancy or parenting, etc. Due to these struggles, these students are often left behind and forgotten when discussions about post-secondary enrollment and attainment occur.

Over the last two years, the program has shown success for this population of youth.

93% of young people who entered the program within the last two years are currently enrolled in a post-secondary program.

Over half of the youth who participated in the program got work-study positions in the same office they worked in through the Adams County Works program, allowing them to maintain their employment throughout their time in their post-secondary program. Two youth of the 2017 cohort currently serve as peer mentors for the program; one is a Technology Enabled Girl Ambassador (TEGA) with ACYI; and one received the Adams County Mayors and Commissioners Youth Award.

With these interventions showing success with this key population, they can be scaled up to target and serve even more students within this population, and other populations often left out of the conversation when it comes to post-secondary programs.

Pictured here: Will Mellion, Metro State University; Brett Schager, Adams County Workforce & Business Center; and Becky Hoffman, ACYI CEO

With the support of the Adams County Works Program, young people at risk of melting off over the summer are increasing their likelihood to make it to their post-secondary programs in the fall. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of youth entering the program more than doubled, and the team hopes to continue growing to ensue more young people are enrolling in post-secondary programs, make it past their first year, and ultimately graduate with the skills and credentials needed to support their families and serve as productive members of our community.

For more information about the MSU Denver College Works Opportunity, CLICK HERE.

For more information about the Front Range Community College Works Opportunity, please contact hannah.brown@frontrange.edu.

Interested youth should contact the Adams County Workforce and Business Center to determine eligibility at 720-523-6964.

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