CTOP's mission is to invest in and help strengthen youth-serving organizations in Connecticut so they can work effectively, reliably, and sustainably with severely off-track or disconnected young people ages 14 to 26 in order to help them re-engage in and complete secondary education or a credential, then transition successfully to a post-secondary pathway leading to satisfying employment at a living wage that supports their self-sufficiency.
Youth-serving non-profit organizations play a critical role in reaching young people who have dropped out of high school, or who are at the highest risk for doing so, and helping them re-connect to education and opportunity.
Yet most non-profits organizations across the social sector struggle to succeed because they lack access to unrestricted long-term funding and outside expertise to support them in focusing on their missions and building the capacities and competencies required to do excellent and highly effective work.
The Opportunity Project is designed in response to this challenge, providing grantees general operating support dollars coupled with organizational coaching and technical assistance to help build their organizational capacities so that they can achieve measurable improvements in young people's lives and prospects.
Over time, the Opportunity Project has continued to sharpen its theory of change and developed a youth development social investment strategy aligned to its mission. The 10-year goals of the Opportunity Project’s strategy are:
- Increase the number of active program slots1 across multiple youth-serving organizations working effectively, reliably, and sustainably with young people who are off-track or disconnected from 0 to 1,080 within 5 years (by 2024) and to 2,500 within 10 years (by 2029).2
- Engender measurable improvements in young people’s lives and prospects – specifically, in their successful engagement in a post-secondary pathway that leads to sustained participation in gainful employment.
- Contribute to advancing ethnic and racial equity by working to address systemic racism and structural dynamics that intensify challenges for off-track and disconnected youth who identify as Black or Hispanic.
1 In an active program slot, a target population youth receives the appropriate quality and dosage of service(s) called for in the organization's theory of change.
2 We have adjusted downward our projected total number of active slots for 2023-24 from the 1,250 target presented in our original strategy paper to reflect our evolved understanding of the need for the active slot definition to include CBT delivery, which requires a longer period of time for all staff to become fully trained.