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The Morrison Institute estimates there are more than 92,000 youth between 16 and 24 years old who are not in school or working in the Phoenix area.
The non-profit Aspen Institute awarded a $150,000 grant that aims to help a local group find jobs for these disconnected youth.
Opportunities 4 Youth grew out of the Maricopa County Education Service Agency after a Measure of America study found the Phoenix ranked highest in the country for so-called disconnected youth in the largest 25 metro areas.
“We’re there to catch them and get them back in the system,” said Tamela Franks, Opportunities 4 Youth executive director.
One way Opportunities 4 Youth does that is through job training, and, starting in March, job fairs. The Aspen Institute chose to support the organization's work as part of a national initiative to work with companies to create a path to jobs and internships.
“If you’re looking for workers, we’ve got workers,” Franks said. “And we are going to train them and make sure they’re the best they can be, and they’re going to be as competitive as anyone walking off the street when we’re done with them.”
March 1 is Opportunities 4 Youth’s first job fair, and the organization plans to hold them quarterly going forward.