11/30/2017: Philadelphia Partners Receive AFCS Youth Entrepreneurship Fund Grant to Boost Enterprise Opportunities for Youth

PHILADELPHIA, PA (November 30, 2017) – Last week, The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions (AFCS) announced the recipients of the 2017 Youth Entrepreneurship Fund (YEF) grants: 

  • Del Norte County and Tribal Lands Opportunity Youth Initiative, Del Norte County, CA (Humboldt Area Foundation, backbone agency); 
  • Project U-Turn, Philadelphia, PA (Philadelphia Youth Network, backbone agency); and 
  • Roadmap to Peace, San Francisco, CA (Bay Area Community Resources, backbone agency). 

The YEF is a new effort to support innovative, collaborative approaches to creating a pipeline into entrepreneurship for opportunity youth by infusing entrepreneurial education into existing local entrepreneurship ecosystem. YEF grants strive to promote racial, gender, and economic equity and justice by ensuring that youth who are experiencing barriers to participation in the economy – including youth of color, low-income, immigrant, system-involved, and LGBTQ youth – are provided with the full range of opportunities to develop the entrepreneurial mindset and skillset, as well as a set of tools and supports they need to thrive in today’s economy. The initiative is funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. 

Locally, the grant was awarded to the Philadelphia Youth Network on behalf of Project U-Turn, an alliance that unifies partners to increase the graduation rate and prepare young people for future opportunities. Project U-Turn has a long-term goal of scaling new entrepreneurial education program models by embedding them into partner’s youth development programs citywide. Grant partners include E3 Power Centers; the Job Opportunity Investment Network (JOIN); the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE); the Philadelphia Department of Commerce (Commerce); the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS). By developing and evaluating a new entrepreneurship pilot at E3 Power Centers, the partners aim to expand access to curriculum that develops an entrepreneurial mindset and skills that will provide youth and young adults with pathways into entrepreneurship and careers in small businesses. Their long-term vision seeks to identify and infuse promising practices across existing programs, such as E3 Power Centers, to improve quality of program offerings throughout the city.

As part of the development of a citywide workforce strategy, the City of Philadelphia and its partners have been working to identify specific ways in which they can support the development of career pathways for opportunity youth. Project U-Turn and PYN’s goals align closely with the City’s ongoing efforts to address the barriers to employment that face targeted populations such as disconnected youth and young adults. The City of Philadelphia will work with PYN and other partners to support re-engagement in education and the workforce of disconnected youth, and help expose these young people to potential career pathways in entrepreneurship. The City’s team will collaborate with partners to connect youth to small business owners, provide assets to enhance the curriculum design, align the pilot with current entrepreneurial development resources, and provide opportunities with real-world problem-solving projects.

“The City of Philadelphia is committed to expanding opportunities for all Philadelphians to achieve economic security, and empowering disconnected youth is a vital part of those efforts,” said Commerce Director Harold T. Epps. “The Youth Entrepreneurship Fund grant from the Aspen Forum will serve as an important tool to help young people gain the skills needed to pursue a career pathway in entrepreneurship. The City is excited to work with PYN and other partners on the execution of this innovative pilot program.”

“Entrepreneurship is an increasingly important strategy as we work to prepare our young people for the future of work,” said Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend, President and CEO of PYN. “Developing an entrepreneurial mindset instills critical skills needed in any career pathway, and we are very excited to provide more of these invaluable opportunities to young people in Philadelphia.”

View additional details on each YEF grantee’s project.

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