Direct Connect to Postsecondary

What is Direct Connect?

Direct Connect is a work group composed of community based organizations, reengagement high schools, and transition specialists from the South Bay Consortium for Adult Education. Direct Connect partners aim to strengthen on-ramps to postsecondary education and training for Opportunity Youth in Santa Clara County. Specifically, partners intend to improve these pathways for Opportunity Youth who are supported by one or more partner in the OYP network. The work group is focused on ensuring the route to postsecondary is open and clear, and that a consistent venue exists along with the relationships and knowledge at the tactical level to ensure:

  • community based organizations, reengagement high schools, and public systems are able to effectively prepare young people for a next step and have trusted partners with whom they can co-manage the transition to postsecondary; and
  • increase pipeline efficiency and retention for postsecondary partners though strong relationships with the key influencers and trusted adults in the lives of students who can support preparation, transition, and persistence.


Issue Statement

The United States community college completion rate is woefully low, with an average six-year completion rate of 39%.1 The six year completion rate in San Jose is 30%.2 Far too few Opportunity Youth in Santa Clara County enroll in community college or other postsecondary options3, and when they do it is unclear whether they complete. Despite their connection to caring and trusted support people, and their eligibility for multiple on-campus services, few Opportunity Youth succeed in graduating from postsecondary with the credentials necessary to connect to Silicon Valley’s 21st century knowledge economy.4

Critically, many Opportunity Youth already access support and stabilization services that are skilled at building individual relationships, but which lack a deep understanding of the process of achieving readiness and navigating postsecondary institutions. Santa Clara County stands at a unique moment, in which critical investments are being made in resources to help young people become ready for postsecondary education, and many community based organizations and reengagement schools are tackling elements of postsecondary preparation and transition. However, neither side is systematically linked to the other and there is little common understanding one another’s work. Finally, in Santa Clara County, the educational environments Opportunity Youth find themselves in are often poorly equipped to support an effective transition to postsecondary and a sticky landing.

Though there are many green shoots emerging, the status quo results in Opportunity Youth receiving very different exposure and experiences based on who their direct service person is, rather than steady movement through an evidence-based process that is personalized and which begins well before graduation and extends seamlessly into postsecondary. This fractured system produces poor results for OY at the very moment postsecondary education is more closely than ever tied to one’s ability to achieving living wage employment and thus self-sufficiency.5

What Direct Connect Will Do to Address These Issues


  • Host College Access Days with OYP network members in August and November 2018, and in March 2019
  • Track Fall 2018 cohort of postsecondary enrollees who are receiving the support of an OYP partner to determine Fall-to-Spring and Freshman-to-Sophomore persistence to establish baseline data
  • Develop and implement common postsecondary readiness assessment with pilot group by December 31st, 2018




  • Bill Wilson Center
  • Boys & Girls Club of Silicon Valley
  • Child Advocates
  • City of San Jose – Youth Intervention Team
  • Juma Ventures
  • National Center for Youth Law – FosterEd
  • Planned Parenthood Mar Monte – Teen Parent Success Program
  • Opportunity Youth Academy
  • San Jose Conservation Corps & Charter School
  • SIATech at Job Corps San Jose
  • Silicon Valley Children’s Fund/TeenForce
  • South Bay Consortium for Adult Education
  • Teen Success Inc.


1. “Full-time community college students graduate at a rate of 57 percent within six years, according to the report, either from the institution where they originally enrolled or another college. The Clearinghouse’s six-year completion rate for all community college students is 39 percent.” Available here.

2. San Jose Promise

3. “only 41 percent of HS/GED graduates in Round 6 were enrolled in school, and the decreased likelihood of educational progress among those with a secondary credential in an earlier round” Available here.

4. “But perhaps the strongest indicator of low human capital is the college completion rate of opportunity youth: by age 28, only 1% of opportunity youth have completed either an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree; the rate for the rest of the population is 36%.” Available here.

5. 99% of jobs created since the great recession have gone to those with at least some college. Available here.