Rio Salado College adult education locations are now full-service Opportunities for Youth (OFY) Reengagement Centers for 16-24 year-olds who need help going back to school, finding gainful employment and securing other support services.
A Reengagement Center is a term used nationally that refers to youth-serving organizations that offer a combination of career and educational services with integrated support services.
OFY is an initiative of Arizona State University’s Center for Human Capital and Youth Development in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. OFY was founded in 2015 in response to a report by Measure of America classifying the Phoenix Metropolitan Area as having the highest rate of opportunity youth among 25 major metro areas in the United States. Opportunity youth are young adults, ages 16-24, who are neither in school nor employed. At the time of this report, nearly 19% of Metro Phoenix’s population of young adults ages 16-24 was classified as opportunity youth. Since then, OFY’s goal has been to reduce that figure to 11% by 2020 and 7% by 2030. OFY has made significant strides in that effort. In 2019, Measure of America reported the rate dropped to 11.9% in Metro Phoenix.
OFY Reengagement Centers provide a one-stop-shop for local youth to get help with education, food insecurities, employment and job training, housing, domestic violence, immigration, mental health issues and more. The addition of Rio Salado’s six adult education locations increases the number of Reengagement Centers to 18.
“We are honored to work with ASU on this initiative, which is in perfect alignment with what we’re trying to achieve at Rio Salado and the Maricopa Community Colleges,” said Rio Salado Interim President Kate Smith. “Our adult education locations are a hub for students to take English as a Second Language and GED® test prep classes, acquire workforce development skills, and get help transitioning into college. We also work closely with other agencies and initiatives like Chicanos Por La Causa, A New Leaf and now Opportunities for Youth to provide integrated support services to help students overcome barriers and increase their chances of success.”
Among the distinguished and diverse OFY Leadership Council Members spearheading this effort are Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, Phoenix College President Larry Johnson and Arizona Department of Education Deputy Associate Superintendent Sheryl Hart. Chicanos Por La Causa Director of Workforce Solutions Victor Contreras will serve as the 2020 chair and Rio Salado College Director of Outreach and Community Partnerships Elizabeth Cole will serve as the 2020 incoming chair.
“As the largest provider of adult education in Arizona with Valley-wide locations, and one of the top three largest colleges serving Maricopa County residents, we are poised to help in a unique and impactful way,” said Cole, who has been serving as an OFY Leadership Council Member since 2016.
The Arizona Department of Education named Rio Salado College as the Adult Education Program of the Year and Adult Basic Education/Adult Secondary Education Excelling Program award-winner for 2017-18. This is the second year in a row Rio Salado received the Program of the Year award.