The Connecticut Opportunity Project’s mission is to strengthen youth-serving organizations so they can positively impact young people who are disengaged or disconnected from high school and help them graduate and succeed in their lives.
To re-engage the more than one in five high school students who are disengaged or disconnected in Connecticut, the state needs high-performing non-profit organizations that can help these young people get back on track to succeed.
“High performance is the ability to deliver—over a prolonged period of time—meaningful, measurable, and sustainable results for the people or causes the organization is in existence to serve.”
—Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community, The Performance Imperative, April 2018
Addressing Systemic Challenges
The current efforts of the state’s non-profit organizations to re-engage young people, however, are being undermined by key systemic challenges. These organizations lack access to:
- Unrestricted, long-term funding they can invest in building necessary competencies;
- Embedded expertise to support organizational development in an excellent way;
- Infrastructure and processes to monitor and act on performance data; and
- Networks of peers and experts for collaboration and ongoing learning.
Without access to these key ingredients for success, Connecticut’s non-profit organizations struggle to produce positive, long-term outcomes for disengaged and disconnected youth, despite their passion for the work. Dalio Philanthropies designed the Connecticut Opportunity Project to address these challenges in a comprehensive way, working in partnership with mission-aligned non-profits committed to developing into high-performing organizations that produce results for high school-aged youth who are disengaged or disconnected.
Defining a Target Population
The target population of youth that the Connecticut Opportunity Project serves is young people ages 14 to 22 who are disengaged or disconnected, showing the following risk factors as identified in Untapped Potential:
- Disengaged youth are defined as those showing one or more indicators of being at risk of dropping out of high school (including chronic absenteeism, 2+ course failures, and/or 2+ suspensions); and
- Disconnected youth are defined as those 21 and younger who do not have a high school diploma and are not enrolled in school; or those 21 and older but not participating in the workforce.