“We really need to break down the barriers between federal programs so we can better meet the needs of our most vulnerable youth”, says Lori Kaplan, President and CEO of the Latin American Youth Center in Washington D.C. “Many of the young people we serve come to us with a multiplicity of needs. These kids often require multiple interventions, over longer periods of time than is currently allowable under some federal programs.”
Over five million 14-to-24-year-olds in the U.S. are out of school and not working. In many cases, they face the additional challenges of being low-income, homeless, in foster care, or involved in the justice system. In response, five federal agencies are coming together to offer a new opportunity to help communities overcome the obstacles they face in achieving better outcomes for these “disconnected youth,” as well as those at risk of becoming similarly disconnected from critical social institutions and supports. Secretary Arne Duncan emphasized the importance of this unprecedented Federal collaboration to improve outcomes for our most vulnerable youth, saying, “We have reduced the dropout rate to a historic low, but we can’t stop there. We need to find better ways to reconnect the millions of young Americans who are not engaged in education, training, or work. This new performance partnership effort gives state, local, and tribal leaders the flexibility to develop innovative solutions to more effectively serve these “opportunity youth”, and put them on a path to the middle class.”
For the next 100 days, state, tribes, and municipalities can apply to become a Performance Partnership Pilot (P3) to test innovative, outcome-focused strategies for achieving significant improvements in educational, employment, and other key outcomes for disconnected youth. This initiative is one of the more promising and exciting opportunities to move the needle on improving the outcomes for over five million young people in our cities, states, and native communities.
This P3 initiative enables up to 10 pilots to blend together funds that they already receive from different discretionary programs administered by the departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services and the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.
P3 allows new flexibility under federal statutes, regulations, and other requirements to overcome barriers and align program and reporting requirements, enabling applicants to propose the most effective ways to use these dollars. In addition, pilots will receive start-up grants of up to $700,000.
Government and community partners already invest considerable attention and resources to meet the needs of America’s disconnected youth. However, practitioners, youth advocates, and program administrators on the front lines of service delivery have let us know that achieving powerful outcomes is still sometimes inhibited by programmatic and administrative obstacles, such as poor coordination and alignment across the multiple systems that serve youth and fragmented data systems that inhibit the flow of information. P3 responds directly to these challenges by offering broad new flexibility in exchange for better outcomes.
As an evidence-based initiative, P3 will prioritize applicants whose proposals draw on existing evidence of what works and show that they will collect and use reliable data for decision-making and accountability. Applicants that propose to rigorously evaluate at least a component of their pilot will receive competitive preference. In order to look across all pilot sites, the Federal agencies will initiate a national P3 evaluation to examine implementation and build the base of knowledge of how to best serve disconnected youth.
In order to test this new authority in diverse environments across America, P3 includes priorities for applicants that propose to serve disconnected youth in rural communities, and applicants that propose to serve disconnected youth in tribal communities.
Applicants will have 100 days to submit their applications, and the Federal agencies plan to announce the pilot sites in late spring 2015. Lead applicants must be a State, local, or tribal government entity, represented by a chief executive. The lead applicant will submit the proposal on behalf of a partnership that involves all public and private organizations (including non-profit, business, industry, and labor organizations) participating in the pilot. Although non-governmental entities are not eligible to be a lead applicant, they may still serve as key partners in designing and implementing pilots.
To hear representatives from Federal agencies present the details of the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) on P3, including application requirements and selection criteria, for potential applicants, please register and join us for the P3 National Webinar on December 1st, from 3:30 to 5 pm EST.
Johan Uvin is the Acting Assistant Secretary in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education and the co-chair of the federal Interagency Forum on Disconnected Youth.