2023 Annual Report
Letter from the Advisory Group
The Connecticut Opportunity Project (CTOP) is dedicated to improving the educational and employment outcomes for young people whom many others have given up on. New research from Dalio Education, CTOP’s founding organization, reveals that the collective failure in Connecticut, as elsewhere, to re-engage young people who are disconnected from education, the workplace, and other mainstream institutions is an unspoken crisis.
Letter from the Senior Portfolio Directors
In our third year of implementing CTOP’s ten-year social investment strategy, our team and our grantee partners continue to evolve rapidly. We have harnessed our lessons learned and utilized our collective understanding of how we can best support young people in achieving success by driving improvements to programs and organizational resilience.
Building Youth Outcomes Through Service Delivery
Charts show CTOP’s KPIs covering July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2023, which is aggregated across all of the grantees with whom CTOP worked during this period. With regard to the relatively smaller numbers for the second and third KPIs compared to the first KPI, we will note that most of our grantees’ core programming is designed with the expectation that youth will participate for multiple years, which by definition means that only a fraction of youth enrolled in active program slots in any given year would be expected to have made the functional gains necessary to graduate in that year.
2023 Grantee Convening
As part of CTOP’s approach to capacity building, we leverage the expertise within the grantee cohort by convening grantee partners once a year for a full day of shared learning and development, meaningful collaboration, and relationship building.
Compass Youth Collaborative
Engaging with high-risk young people in relationships to provide support and opportunities that help them become ready, willing, and able to succeed in education, employment, and life.
CT Violence Intervention Program
Working to disrupt, prevent, and stop the spread of violence through crisis intervention and proactive relationships with high-risk youth and the institutions that impact their lives.
Our Piece of the Pie
Helping youth who have not completed high school, lack basic work skills, and may be involved in the child welfare or justice systems to overcome barriers and succeed in education and employment.
Disrupting incarceration, poverty, and racism by engaging the young adults, police, and systems at the center of urban violence in relationships to address trauma, find hope, and drive change.
Supporting youth and young adults with a variety of initiatives including violence interruption, court diversionary programs, and advocacy for youth experiencing mental illness and substance misuse.
New Partnership with Forge City Works
In June of this year, CTOP expanded its portfolio with a new category of investments in social enterprises, making our first such investment in Forge City Works, which operates a restaurant and catering business that creates the primary practice arena for trainees to cultivate the soft and hard skills needed to succeed in employment.
The Year Ahead:
Research to Publish in 2024
To build on the momentum generated by Dalio Education’s release of Connecticut’s Unspoken Crisis and inform our understanding of the supports that are most successful in re-engaging disconnected young people, and how to shape funding, programs, and advocacy efforts accordingly, two more research reports will be published in March.
Through a qualitative research study to be published in 2024, Community Science will expand our understanding of the lived experiences of young people who are disconnected by exploring their context and community.
This report by MDRC to be published in 2024 will review the programs, practices, and policies across the country that are facilitative of, or create barriers to, supporting young people experiencing disconnection.
New Partnerships & Pathways to Careers
CTOP has developed a new strategic approach to facilitate the operational alignment between multiple grantee partners, with the goal that young people who initially are severely disconnected can move seamlessly from one to the next on a pathway to securing sustaining employment on a career path.
COMPASS and Forge City Works, CTOP's newest grantee partner, will co-develop a pathway design tailored to fit their young people and the operational context of their organizations, and then officially launch the first formal cohort of young people to progress through this pathway.