ACR 16 (Mike Fong) Opportunity Youth in California – Support

March 13, 2023

The Honorable Al Muratsuchi
Chair Assembly Education Committee
1020 N Street, Room 159
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: ACR 16 (Mike Fong) Opportunity Youth in California – SUPPORT

Dear Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi,

On behalf of a diverse coalition of advocates, we are writing to express our strong support of ACR 16 Opportunity Youth in California.

Opportunity Youth (OY) are individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 that are not in school or working, including youth and young adults involved with the foster care, juvenile justice, and homelessness systems of care. They face unique employment, education, and training barriers that often do not align with efforts that center adults. Opportunity Youth facing socio-economic and systemic barriers are oftentimes disconnected from education and workforce training opportunities, preventing young people of color from accessing our state’s prosperity.

Data collected from the 2021 American Community Survey (ACS) of the U.S. Census shows that in California there were 572,756 youth ages 16-24 who were neither in school nor at work (12.5% disconnection rate). Data also indicated the disconnection rate of Black teens and young adults (ages 16-24) was more than twice that of their White peers (22.3% and 10.9%, respectively). Black and Latinx adolescents not only are disproportionately more likely to come from low-income households and have experienced past trauma but are also faced with discrimination that can derail their physical and mental well-being. Additionally, despite declines in youth incarceration, significant gaps remain as youth of color are overrepresented in our criminal justice system. Prioritizing OY will not only expand their education and workforce opportunities but also expand the pool of talent that employers can access to meet their workforce needs.

ACR 16 encourages the State of California to create pathways to success for OY and the need to develop a statewide comprehensive plan that will reduce persistent economic inequities, and prioritize: (1) investments in education and workforce training programs that create pathways to good jobs; (2) expand innovative “earn and learn” opportunities such as apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships, and work-based learning opportunities; (3) advance dual enrollment implementation to allow OY to earn college credit while earning their high school equivalency; (4) ensure inclusivity of OY in the Cradle-to-Career Data System; (5) remove barriers to access student financial aid programs; and (6) protect social safety net investments that support basic needs such as food, housing, internet access, transportation, childcare, health, and mental health care – enabling OY to complete their education and training goals.

For these reasons, we strongly support ACR 16 and we look forward to our state leader’s support for this important resolution.

If there are any questions, please contact Anna Alvarado at


Alliance for Children’s Rights
Erica Hickey
Policy Fellow

Bill Wilson Center
Josh Selo

California Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs
Sarah Bedy

California Children’s Trust
Alex Briscoe

California EDGE Coalition
Zima Creason
Executive Director

California Forward Action Fund
David Nelson
Executive Director

California Hospital Association
Peggy Wheeler
Vice President of Rural Health & Governance

California Opportunity Youth Network (COYN)
Sean Hughes
Policy Director

California Workforce Association
Bob Lanter
Executive Director

California Youth Empowerment Network (CAYEN)
Heidi L. Strunk
President & CEO

Center for Employment Training
Pascal Do

Children Now
Danielle Wondra
Senior Policy & Outreach Associate, Child Welfare

City of San Jose
Sarah Zárate
Director, Office of Administration, Policy, and Intergovernmental Relations, City of San Jose

Tessa Nicholas
Executive Director

Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)
Rita Medina
Deputy Director, State Policy & Advocacy

Coalition for Responsible Community Development
Mark Wilson
President & CEO

EntreNous Youth Empowerment Services
Sara Silva
Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director

Envision Your Pathway
Kendra Fujino
O’Donoghue Executive Director

Excite Credit Union
John Hogan
Vice President Community Relations

Foster Care Counts
Jeanne Pritzker

Foster Greatness
Colette Smith
Executive Director

GO Public Schools
Darcel Sanders

Goodwill Southern California
Dr. Luis B. Castañón
Strategic Impact Officer

Groundwork Social Sector Consulting
Joe Herrity

Growing Big Ideas
Shawna N Weir-Wright
Chief Possibilities Officer

Serita Cox

John Burton Advocates for Youth
Amy Lemley
Executive Director

Juma Ventures
Adriane Armstrong

Kids in Common
Dana Bunnett
Executive Director

Lighthouse Silicon Valley
Quency Phillips
Executive Director

Linked Learning Alliance
Anne Stanton
President & CEO

Mental Health America of California
Heidi L. Strunk
President & CEO

New Door Ventures
Kevin Hickey
Chief Program Officer

New Ways to Work
Robert Sainz
President & Executive Director

Matt Bell

Regional Economic Association Leaders (REAL) Coalition
Cynthia Murray
REAL Coalition Education & Workforce Development Chair

San Diego Workforce Partnership
Nick DeVico
Director of Strategic Youth Initiatives

San Jose Conservation Corps and Charter School
Mayra Mejia
Director, CFET Youth Programs & Support Services

Santa Clara County Youth Action Board
Jocelyn Arenas
Board Member

Regan Williams

Small Business Majority
Bianca Blomquist
Political Director

Soledad Enrichment Action
Nathan Arias
President & CEO

The RightWay Foundation
Franco Vega
Founder & CEO

Alliance for Boys & Men of Color
Eric Morrison-Smith
Executive Director

Alysia Bell
President & CEO

Urban Strategies Council
David A. Harris
President & CEO

Amber Twitchell

Youth Will
Safia Haidari
Director of Policy Advocacy & Organizing

The Unity Council
Chris Iglesias