Fairfield Foundation Hopes To Steer Vulnerable Youth Onto Path Of Opportunity

Sep 7, 2017

A Connecticut foundation says economic inequality is creating stark disparities in education and employment opportunities for young people across Fairfield County.

Fairfield County’s Community Foundation has tracked this trend through its Community Wellbeing Index, which it created with DataHaven.   

Nancy Von Euler, vice president of Programs for the Foundation, described this disparity, its impact and what the Foundation is doing to change the trend.  

“There’s a population of young people, rather large population of young people, about 10 percent across the state, who are neither in school nor employed. We call these “disconnected youth,” but they’re also considered “opportunity youth,” because if you can re-engage and connect those young people to school and to employment, there’s a tremendous benefit to society and to the economics of the county.”

Von Euler continued, “We actually have an initiative at the Community Foundation called Thrive by 25, which is looking at how we bring together stakeholders and demonstrate programs and processes and advocate for policies that will increase success and career and education and civic engagement for young people ages 16 to 25.

One of the first things we’ve done in that initiative is develop a demonstration program with Norwalk Community College called Career Connections. And that program is providing wraparound supports to young people who are pursuing allied health certificates in the non-credit division of the community college.

Before this, they would not have gotten scholarship support or academic advising or career coaching or any of that. Now they are getting scholarship assistance, academic coaching, career coaching, on-the-job placement, and on-the-job coaching as they pursue certificates, some of which they can earn in as short a time as nine weeks, that put them right into careers that are of sustaining wage, a good wage.”