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Amarillo Area Foundation

New Grant Poised to Help Opportunity Youth!

By April 24, 2023May 8th, 2023No Comments

The Amarillo Area Foundation was honored to be a recipient of a grant from the Opportunity Youth Forum at the Aspen Institute in support of its work around Opportunity Youth in the Texas Panhandle. This is a part of the Texas Opportunity Youth Network’s Innovation Fund, which aims to support the creation of innovative programs in the state of Texas focused on re-engaging opportunity youth using a blended funding model.

Opportunity Youth are defined as youth aged 16-24 who are disconnected from education or the workforce. Many communities also include those who are underutilized in the labor market. Measure of America estimates that in 2019, the Texas Panhandle had at least 5,200 disconnected youth. These youth often deal with many challenges, including homelessness, disability, parenting at a young age, or involvement with foster or justice systems. Re-engaging these opportunity youth represents a host of positive benefits for their lives and communities. It means increasing enrollment and completion rates, boosting the economy, lowering their reliance on state and local assistance, and decreasing the crime rate. This type of re-engagement requires a concerted effort across different sectors, all focused on and informed about the unique needs of opportunity youth.

Through this funding from the Aspen Institute, Amarillo Area Foundation will build a working group of partners across different sectors of our area who serve Opportunity Youth. This group will be led in its work by an advisory board of current and former opportunity youth from the Texas Panhandle who will act as consultants and will be paid a fee for their time and expertise. This working group will have the goal of planning an Opportunity Youth Summit for Fall 2023, which will host leaders in business, education, and social services to raise awareness and education about opportunity youth in the Texas Panhandle. It will also be tasked with selecting a community backbone organization that will lead a collaborative network serving Opportunity Youth in the top 26 counties of the Texas Panhandle.

We believe that building a collaborative network of partners led and informed by opportunity youth will establish a culture of connection in the Texas Panhandle and create a community where at-risk youth will find no wrong door when seeking help and opportunities to improve the quality of life for themselves and their families. This project aligns with the goals of the Amarillo Area Foundation in increasing the number of Texas Panhandle residents who are achieving a postsecondary credential of value leading to a family-sustaining wage and is one way we are working to improve quality of life for Texas Panhandle residents.


Beth Gunn

Grants Program Officer and Education Strategy Lead