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PYN News Article

The Aspen Institute Awards an Opportunity Youth Grant to Project U-Turn

Category: Project U-Turn | Jul 17, 2013

Philadelphia - The Aspen Institute announced a three-year grant of over $499,000 to Project U-Turn, Philadelphia's city-wide campaign to draw attention to and resolve Philadelphia's drop-out crisis.  This grant will allow the initiative to delve deeper into the needs of Philadelphia's opportunity youth and to extend its capacity to more fully address those needs

The Aspen Institute's generous investment is part of the Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund (OYIF), in which 21 communities were awarded grants totaling $6 million.  The grants are designed to recognize cities that already have or are poised to harness the power of cross-sector collaboration to make substantive progress for opportunity youth, defined as Americans 16-24 who are disconnected from education and work. Of the 21 funded communities, Philadelphia is one of just two recipients awarded an implementation, as opposed to a planning, grant.  To learn more and view the full list of OYIF partner communities, click here

With these funds, Project U-Turn will focus on the following:

  • Broadening collaborative representation
  • Using data to guide decision-making and assess impact
  • Building effective programs and pathways
  • Developing supportive policies for opportunity youth
  • Leveraging funding to support and sustain innovation

Launched in 2006, Project U-Turn has galvanized public opinion across a broad range of constituencies and built a solid and committed base for action. As a result, accomplishments of the campaign include: the creation of thousands of new seats in high-quality, "multiple pathways" educational options for Philadelphia students; the establishment of new access points to support enrollment and re-enrollment for at-risk students; and the redirection of millions of dollars in support of off-track students and out-of-school youth.

"We are grateful to the Aspen Institute for their investment in Philadelphia's youth.  This infusion of dollars will allow us to strengthen our efforts and ultimately expand the number of viable options available to support opportunity youth in our city," said Stacy E. Holland, President and CEO of Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN).  "While Philadelphia has made significant progress in increasing the high school graduation rate, there is much more work to be done - work that could not be done without partners like the Aspen Institute."

Project U-Turn is managed by PYN and operates as a sub-committee of the Philadelphia Council for College and Career Success.  Since the inception of Project U-Turn, Philadelphia has seen its four-year, high-school-graduation rate increase by 12% - from 52% in 2006 to 64% in 2012.

For more information on Project U-Turn, click here


About the Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute"s Forum for Community Solutions and Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund build on the work and recommendations of the White House Council for Community Solutions. The Forum is chaired by Melody C. Barnes, former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and run by Executive Director Steve Patrick. For more information, visit  The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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