Youth Voice – Experience in Reengagement Education

This is the third post in our monthly blog series highlighting the work of the Opportunity Youth Partnership.

The Opportunity Youth Partnership (OYP) is a collective impact initiative in Santa Clara County. Opportunity Youth are 16-24-years-old disconnected from education and/or employment. In Santa Clara County there are over 20,000 Opportunity Youth (see page 31). The OYP’s priority populations are Opportunity Youth who have experienced the justice system, foster systems, and/or homelessness, as well as those who are pregnant/parenting. This initiative brings together community based organizations and nonprofits, public systems, and employers to build pathways to education and career that lead to durable self-sufficiency.

By: Luzmaria C.
OYA Graduate and Evergreen Valley College Freshman

I enrolled in OYA during the summer of 2016. Traditional schools had not been a good fit for me, but I was committed to finish my diploma. Enrolling in OYA offered me a flexible school that fit my life, and the support of my teacher and my education navigator made it all work.

My OYA teacher, Mr. Dempsey was great! He was very supportive and understanding, and always made sure I was doing my homework. I am so grateful for the flexibility and support the OYA provided. Being a single parent of four children (ages 1, 2, 3, and 7), I had a difficult time making it to the OYA site every week because each child needed something different throughout the day. Mr. Dempsey would drop off school work at my home or e-mail it to me, because he understood why I couldn’t get to the OYA site. I appreciated that Mr. Dempsey understood the difficulties of watching after and raising four children. He stayed in touch with me and constantly reminded me of my goal to finish high school. Mr. Dempsey’s approach helped me stay connected to OYA and feel comfortable when communicating with him about attendance and school workload. I was able to be open and get the help I needed in a way that worked with my life. I graduated with my high school diploma this past June.

I am also thankful that the OYA has education navigators. An education navigator was a good way to have a support system and someone I could talk to and go to for help with both school and life issues. Mayra, my education navigator, has helped me in many ways. The most important thing for me was school, but I have many other responsibilities as a mother of four. Mayra pushed to get my diploma, and despite some set-backs she kept pushing me and did not give up on me. Mayra also helped me enroll in college. Having her consistent support while I completed my diploma and as I enrolled in and start college is very important.  She showed me what I needed to do so that I can be ready to start. At first, I did not know where to begin, but now I am enrolled at Evergreen Valley College and will start this Fall.

A lot of people don’t know about OYA. When I tell them about it they are shocked and wonder why they haven’t heard about it.  I hope OYA spreads to more people, it is a great opportunity for young people looking to complete their diploma.

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