13 teams representing 37 counties serve as
statewide leaders with “Our State, Our Work”
A two-year initiative to connect young adults
to living wage employment opportunities.
Tracking Our Progress
Together, teams crafted a shared vision, identified standards of engagement, and were introduced to the ncIMPACT Collective Impact model for how to structure and sustain this work.
Before attending the forum, teams created a short video capturing the story of a young adult who either is or was at high risk for becoming an Opportunity Youth, but defied the odds. These “Stories of Thriving” are personal and powerful accounts of experiences in each young person’s own words. Their stories stood as a testament to the trusting relationships the community organizations that are part of OSOW’s community teams have formed with people in their programs.
Shared visions and Opportunity Youth perspectives
After completing activities such as mess mapping, problem definitions, and asset mapping, teams returned to the School of Government in January of 2023 to create their shared visions and collaborative agendas, outlining how they would collaboratively work to achieve their goals. Teams heard directly from youth how to best reach and engage their target demographic, and were guided through the creation of a shared measurement system.
Social Media for Social Good
Carolina Across 100’s “Our State, Our Work” team members participated in a webinar offering tips and strategies for leveraging social media to connect with a specific audience, like Opportunity Youth. The UNC School of Government’s Jessica Khan guided participants through best practices for community outreach, with support from ncIMPACT’s Mary Parry and Wenxin Chen.
Reaching numeric goals and supporting Opportunity Youth Across Diverse lived experiences
Between January and March, teams returned to their home communities to discuss their shared visions, goals, objectives, and measures, and make adjustments to these measurement systems. At Forum 3, they had a chance to present their finalized plans, hear directly from employers in emerging NC industries, and learned of resources that exist to support Opportunity Youth across a broad range of diverse lived experiences.
Focus Group Findings
“This American (Work) Life” – Challenges & Opportunities in the Workforce
In collaboration with NCGrowth, ncIMPACT Initiative has hosted focus groups across all eight of NC’s prosperity zones to ask the question, “Where are the Workers?” We have heard from over 130 employers, workforce support providers, and young people about their experiences, barriers, opportunities, motivations, and essential needs related to work since the onset of the pandemic. We shared high-level findings with participants in an April 25 webinar.
“Our State, Our Work” OSOW mini-grants are “innovation grants” to help teams engage in a short-term pathfinder project. Funds will be used to help teams accomplish work they would otherwise have not completed. These grants are funded by costs offset by moving from in-person to a hybrid setting for our fourth forum. We are grateful to our funder, Blue Cross Blue Shield NC, for supplying this funding, and are excited to see what innovative approaches teams take to put the funds to use!
Teams may request up to $5,000 to support your work to reach and engage Opportunity Youth. This is their chance to get creative – no matter the outcomes, we will learn and develop together evidence-based best practices for this work!
To be responsive to requests for earlier deployment of funds from a few teams, we are conducting two application cycles.
- April 17: Application opens.
- May 9: Grantees announced
- June 1: Grant application opens.
- August 4: Grantees Announced
Meet the Community Collaboratives
Carolina Across 100 is proud to partner on the Our State, Our Work initiative with these 13 teams, made up of business, civic, education, nonprofit, faith-based, and government entities. These 13 cross-sector teams represent 37 counties across the state. Each team is receiving a variety of supports from the University, all aimed at connecting North Carolina’s young adults to jobs that pay a living wage. The teams are numbered from West to East on the map below. Click on each team’s tile to learn more!
Opportunity for Impact
“Our State, Our Work” community collaboratives are serving as statewide leaders in implementing positive strategies to significantly expand and deepen education and employment pathways for Opportunity Youth. They are piloting practices that will benefit communities across North Carolina.
These teams represent 37 counties from the mountains to the coast and are home to nearly 40% of our state’s population of Opportunity Youth.