National Cohort to Improve Postsecondary Success for Youth and Young Adults

In April 2019, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Third Sector began working with six states to better utilize local and federal funding sources to improve educational and employment opportunities for youth and young adults ages 16 to 24 who are out of school or unemployed, and who face the greatest barriers to achieving financial stability.

The effort specifically focused on various wellness outcomes defined by each state, including educational credential attainment, job placement and wage progression.

Third Sector, in partnership with the Casey Foundation's Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) and Research Evaluation Evidence and Design (REED) units, provided the following strategic technical assistance:

  • Local planning teams are represented by state human service departments, workforce boards, community colleges, local nonprofits and/or state longitudinal data system institutions.
  • Community partnerships have strengthened relationships with government workforce and education agencies to adapt Career Pathway Programs as part of a continuum of support that is responsive to the needs of Youth and Young Adults.
  • An intentional focus has been placed on addressing racial inequities and persistent barriers that prevent youth populations from attaining postsecondary education and workforce training services.
  • State teams are particularly interested in applying federal funding streams, such as WIOA or TANF funds, or federal opportunities like SIPPRA and the Cares Act, to scale Career Pathway Programs.

For further reading on this work, please reference this report detailing main takeaways and future opportunities for expanding Career Pathway programs and coordinating the education and workforce systems within these states.

More state-specific information for this effort is listed below. If you are interested in receiving additional information about the cohort, please contact Jenny Zhong at Third Sector.

This research was funded by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Inc., and we thank them for their support; however, the findings and conclusions presented in this report are those of the author(s) alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Foundation.

State Team Overview

Arkansas Community Colleges and the Department of Workforce Services (DWS) are seeking to expand ACC’s Career Pathway Initiative (CPI) to increase enrollment of TANF-eligible, non-custodial parent youth who are pursuing postsecondary degrees and workforce training credentials. Reorienting and expanding the reach of CPI’s services will be a targeted effort to increase the impact of TANF dollars in amplifying family assets and reaching a 2-generational impact.

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) Foundation Inc. and Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS), alongside seven state agencies, are working with the Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board (KWIB) to address existing racial disparities and improve outcomes for youth ages 14 - 24 who experience homelessness, limited English proficiency, poverty, and/or are migrants, enrolled in Special Education, or unaccompanied. Kentucky’s vision is supported by KYSTATS’ robust data integration and visualization dashboard, which integrates various state administrative data sets and disaggregates insights to understand trends and disparities across youth population demographics. Building and maintaining the dashboard for future use is a new opportunity for KYSTATS to provide data to inform how state leaders, like those at the KWIB, design and implement new strategies to improve economic opportunity for youth and young adults who face significant barriers to career pathways and ultimately employment.

The Mississippi Community College Board (MCCB) seeks to expand the MIBEST program to youth ages 16 - 24 without a high school credential, who are system-involved (via TANF, SNAP, foster care, or juvenile justice), and/or are young parents. MCCB continues to work with the Department of Human Services (including the TANF and Youth Services Divisions), the Department of Employment Security, the Department of Education, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Public Safety Division of Public Safety Planning, the Department of Rehabilitation Services, and various local philanthropic and community-based organizations to develop a sustainability plan and youth engagement process to inform the scaling of MIBEST.


Project Lead: Nebraska Children and Families Foundation
Government Partner: Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services
Program: Connected Youth Initiative (CYI)
Data Partner: TBD

The Nebraska Children and Families Foundation aims to improve education and workforce opportunities for youth ages 18-24 who have experienced foster care, juvenile justice involvement, are at risk of homelessness, and/or experienced human trafficking, with an emphasis on English Language learners, youth who are Native American, and/or refugee young adults. The Nebraska Children and Families Foundation continues to build partnerships with state agencies, namely the Department of Health & Human Services and the Department of Labor, to serve as referral, funding, and data partners for scaling CYI.

New Mexico

Project Lead: United Way of Central New Mexico
Government Partner: TBD
Program: Mission:Graduate and other youth programs
Data Partner: University of New Mexico

The United Way of Central New Mexico (UWCNM), building off of nearly 40 interviews with numerous community partners, continues to reassess and redefine its role as a community convener. To guide this effort, UWCNM developed a new five-year strategic plan for its adult education and career readiness work, with a focus on identifying, addressing, and eliminating gaps and inequities, as well as building capacity with other community partners. UWCNM plans to create a cohort model for “comebackers,” youth and young adults who previously disenrolled from postsecondary education and seek to complete postsecondary degrees or certification programs and career preparation activities. UWCNM will continue to leverage the existing relationships and partnerships they have with the Department of Workforce Solutions and the Central Workforce Board/Workforce Connection Center, as well as expand their relationship with the Higher Education Department.


Project Lead: Towards Employment on behalf of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Generation Work™ initiative
Government Partner: Cuyahoga County - Jobs and Family Services
Program: Comprehensive Case Management and Employment Program (CCMEP)
Data Partner: Case Western Reserve University

Building off of Cuyahoga County and Third Sector’s landmark partnership to launch the first county-level Pay for Success project, a team of partners including Cuyahoga County Jobs and Family Services Department continues tackling racial disparities across its social service system, with a particular focus on its Comprehensive Case Management and Employment Program (CCMEP). Through this work, Ohio plans to streamline the coordination of CCMEP services to address outcome disparities for youth of color ages 18 - 24 who are aging out of the foster care/juvenile justice systems, homeless, and/or in families receiving TANF cash assistance.

This work is supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) and Research Evaluation Evidence and Design (REED) units, and technical assistance support from Third Sector.