The Opportunity Youth Hub is a United Way of the Midlands program that serves area “Opportunity Youth” – young people ages 16 to 24 who lack meaningful connections to work or education.
There are an estimated 6.7 million Opportunity Youth nationwide and as many as 8.000 in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area.
Opportunity Youth Hub staff refer young people in need of services to one or more of the Hub's 40 partnering agencies that make up the Opportunity Youth Alliance. The Hub served 200 young people during its pilot year – twice as many as expected.
Ronda Newman, Associate Vice President of Project Everlast – a program that serves young people transitioning out of foster care -- says the Hub is a much-needed “central navigation point.” In addition to connecting young people to available services, Newman says the Hub’s “flex fund” helps with urgent financial needs.
“And it could be a couple months’ rent to get them started or get them caught up. It could be bus tickets or car repairs to help them get to and from their employment. I mean, we’ve paid for tools, if they need tools to be employed. We’ve paid for any number of things that represent a barrier to them getting up on their feet. and a lot of these young people are simply not connected to anybody in their lives that are able to help them."
Newman says the Opportunity Youth Hub office is a welcoming place, and many of the people they serve are walk-ins in their early 20's who learn about the program from their peers. She says they have also had success helping young people return to the community after being incarcerated.
For more information, the website is unitedwaymidlands.org/opportunityyouth